How to help your teen get moving

Editor’s note: Before starting any new exercise program, check with your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.


It’s no secret that exercise is important to your health, whatever your age. It is tempting to assume that children have no problem staying active. After all, there’s a sports class at school, a kids’ break and organized sports – a lot of organized sports. But kids, especially teens, are a lot less active than you might think.

Teens should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity every day, according to World Health Organization. after a Study 2019 Published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health showed that less than 20% of teens attending school worldwide get this much active, with girls being less active than boys. In the United States, that number is only slightly higher, where 24% of children ages 6 to 17 engage in 60 minutes of physical activity per day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is behind these dismal numbers? Many things. gravity organized sports It is fading, mainly due to the increasing costs, time commitment and often highly competitive nature. Only 38% of 6- to 12-year-olds played an organized sport in 2018, down from 45% in 2008, according to Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute writes that the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the downward trend State of Play 2021 Report.

Then there is the technology. Nearly half of American teens say they’re online”almost constantlyVacation and playtime outside the home are no longer mandatory in most studies, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, up from just 24% in 2014-2015. Carol Harrison, senior clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at Houston, said. Schools In addition, more children are driven to school today than in the past, when they walked or cycled.

“Many kids are also coming home as both parents may not have gotten home yet from work,” Harrison said. “The result, oftentimes, is gaming on computers and watching TV, which is often accompanied by unhealthy snacking.”

Experts say this lack of movement is worrisome, and not just from a weight perspective. In addition to improving your heart, muscle, bone and metabolic health, regular exercise helps improve coordination and agility, and the resulting increased blood flow is good for the brain as well.

“Studies have shown that children who engage in daily physical activity generally do better with attention and focus, which translates to better academic performance,” she said. “It also helps with impulse control and better management of emotions.”

How do you make your teenager sweat? While it can often be challenging, there are many ways to bring more physical activity into children’s lives.

Nobody wants to be told to get out and start running. While that, Search for activities You can have fun together. This could be as simple as a family bike ride, a beanbag ride, or a trip to the park with friends. On days off, schedule a camping trip, where daily swimming, hiking, or kayaking is on the agenda.

Skateboarding keeps kids on the go.  The exercises also improve the focus and attention of young people.

“Focus on the fun,” Harrison said. “For most children, having fun is a necessary component.” This is the social aspect. “Studies have shown that the number one reason for most adults to start and continue an exercise program is the social component,” she said. “Children are the same.”

Organized sports are good at helping teens build social bonds and teach perseverance and teamwork. But some programs focus more on winning and less on skill development. If your teen is eager to master a particular sport, a competitive program may be a great fit. But teens who play organized sports for fun and socializing may prefer a less competitive environment.

Be aware that coaches play a big role in the team’s activity level,” said Jennifer Agnes, assistant professor in the Penn State Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management in University Park, Pennsylvania. Some practice less active training, as players may spend a lot of time listening to instructions or waiting in line to take their turn for basketball shooting drills.

Not all kids will enjoy organized sports, especially if they are not competitive. But maybe they enjoy rock climbing, skateboarding, or performing arts. “My entry point was the youth circus,” said Agnes, “and the seesaw is an increasingly youthful activity today.”

Rock climbing is a great alternative activity for teens, especially those who are not into organized sports.

There’s also dance, yoga, martial arts, ultimate frisbee, badminton, pickle ball, and more. Current trend: virtual reality exercise, something Agans said will likely be prominent in the future. studies They already show that it can potentially have a positive effect on physical activity.

Exercise does not mean exercise strictly. Housework burns calories, for example, so assign your kids the age-appropriate ones that require the most movement. Consider mowing the lawn or vacuuming versus a flick or drying dishes. Another good option is another good option, Harrison said, as gardening includes planting, watering, weeding, and more.

Routines like mowing the lawn are a good way for teens to break a sweat and burn some calories.

Contests can also enhance activity. Challenge your teen to see who can run the fastest, do the most sitting exercises or walk the most steps each day or week. Use small gifts as a reward. And don’t overlook volunteer work, which often involves a lot of movement. Maybe they can take part in a driveway building event or help someone with packing and moving boxes.

If your teens suddenly don’t show any interest in an activity they normally enjoy, sit down to talk. Perhaps their lack of interest in swimming was because they were suddenly embarrassed to see them in a swimsuit, Agnes said. Or maybe they want to quit football because a new teammate is making fun of them, or they don’t have a teammate this year.

“Personal restrictions like this can prevent people from doing the activities they love to do,” she said, so don’t assume your teen has suddenly lost motivation to move. Something else could happen.

Also pay attention to the signs addictive exercise, which involves excessive exercise and is often associated with eating disorders. Signs of compulsive exercise include losing a lot of weight, exercising more after eating too much or losing exercise, and refusing to skip exercise, even when tired, sick, or injured.

Since teens find activities they enjoy, be sure to take note All the positives It’s caused by their increased mobility, whether it’s stronger muscles, better sleep, or higher energy levels. This can help them on days when their motivation wanes – something that happens to children and adults alike.

“Kids can learn to be excited about moving,” Agnes said. “We need to put them on a path where they have a basis for enjoying the movement that will get them looking for activity as young people.”

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