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Kids who were once bursting with boundless energy may lose interest in physical activity as they enter adolescence. They’re balancing a lot of interests and responsibilities between school, studies, friends, and even part-time jobs. However, children who enjoy sports and exercise as a child are more likely to remain active throughout their lives. Teenagers may only need a little motivation to maintain their physical fitness during their adolescent years.

Maintaining a healthy weight, feeling more active, and having a positive mindset are all immediate benefits. Participating in team and individual sports can increase one’s self-esteem, allow for social contact, and provide an opportunity to have fun. Furthermore, consistent physical activity can aid in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and other medical issues later in life.

Fitness in the Teen Years

Teens should engage in at least one hour of physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Physical activity, on the other hand, tends to lag during the adolescent years. Many teenagers drop out of organized sports, and daily physical education sessions are becoming obsolete.

Teens can gain health benefits from nearly any activity they enjoy, such as skateboarding, in-line skating, yoga, swimming, dancing, or kicking a footbag in the driveway, if they have the chance and interest. Under the guidance of a skilled adult, weight training can enhance strength and help prevent sports injuries.

Walking to school, completing chores, or finding an active part-time job are all examples of ways teens can incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. They can work as camp counselors, babysitters, or assistant coaches for child sports teams, all of which provide opportunities for physical activity.

Motivating Teens to be Active

In addition to dealing with mental and physical changes, teenagers encounter a slew of new social and academic pressures. Teens spend an average of 7 1/2 hours each day on various media, such as watching TV, listening to music, using social media, and playing video games, according to studies. It’s no surprise, however, that they can’t seem to find the time to exercise or that their parents can’t manage to get them to do so.

Parents should aim to give their children some control over how they choose to exercise. Teenagers are identifying themselves as individuals and want the freedom to make their own choices, so they are hesitant to do yet another thing they are taught to do. It’s important to emphasize that it’s not what they do; they simply need to be physically active on a daily basis.

The activities must be enjoyable for teens to remain motivated. By providing equipment, transportation, and companionship, you can support your teen’s decisions. Create opportunities for teens to be active with their friends because peers can have a big influence on their life.

Find an exercise routine that matches your teen’s schedule to help him or her stay active. Although your teen may not have time to participate in a team sport at school or in a local league, many gyms offer teen memberships, and children may be able to come before or after school.

Exercise video games (such as tennis or bowling) are a useful alternative to sedentary hobbies, but they should not take the place of active play and sports engagement. Sedentary activities, such as watching TV, playing video games, and using computers, smartphones, or tablets, should be limited for all teenagers.

SPEAKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR

Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about your teen’s fitness. Teens who are overweight or sedentary may need to start cautiously, and your doctor might suggest programs or assist you in developing a fitness plan.

A teen with a chronic illness or disability should not be barred from participating in fitness activities. Depending on the condition, some activities may need to be modified or adapted, while others may be too dangerous. Consult your doctor to determine which activities are appropriate for your child.

And when it comes to exercise, some teenagers may go overboard. Young athletes, particularly those who participate in gymnastics, wrestling, or dancing, may experience weight-loss pressures. Consult your doctor if your teen refuses to eat certain food groups (such as fats), becomes too preoccupied with body image, appears to be exercising compulsively, or has a dramatic weight change. Finally, if your teen complains of pain during sports or activity, consult your doctor.

Fitness for Everyone

Physical fitness is beneficial to everyone. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you feel better about yourself and reduce your chance of developing major illnesses later in life (including heart disease and stroke). Regular physical activity can also assist teenagers in learning to deal with the physical and emotional obstacles they confront on a daily basis.

Encourage your teen to commit to fitness by setting a good example and exercising regularly yourself. Try bike rides, hitting a tennis ball around, going to a local swimming pool, or even playing games like capture the flag and touch football as fitness activities you can do together. You’re not only working together to achieve your health goals, but it’s also a terrific way to keep in touch with your teen.

Physical Activity Facts

  • Regular physical activity improves strength and endurance, helps grow strong bones and muscles, helps control weight, decreases anxiety and stress, boosts self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels in children and adolescents
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that young people aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily
  • In 2013, 27.1 percent of high school students polled had engaged in at least 60 minutes of physical exercise on each of the seven days preceding the survey, but only 29% had attended daily physical education class
  • Comprehensive school physical activity programs, such as recess, classroom-based physical activity, intramural physical activity groups, interscholastic sports, and physical education, can all help to promote physical activity
  • Physical education should be provided to all students in all grades and taught by qualified teachers in schools
  • Schools can also collaborate with community organizations to conduct physical activity activities outside of school hours and to share physical activity facilities

BENEFITS OF REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Regular physical activity:

  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles
  • Aids in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being
  • May help improve students’ academic performance, including:
    • Academic achievement and grades
    • Academic behavior, such as time on task
    • Factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF PHYSICAL INACTIVITY

  • Obesity and overweight, which are impacted by physical inactivity and poor diet, can raise a person’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and poor health
  • Physical inactivity raises the risk of premature death, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure

TEENS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PARTICIPATION

  • In a nationally representative poll, 77% of children aged 9–13 years said they engaged in free-time physical activity in the previous week
  • Only 29% of high school students had engaged in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on each of the seven days preceding the poll in 2013
  • 15.2% of high school students had not engaged in 60 minutes or more of physical activity on any of the seven days preceding the survey
  • Participation in physical activity declines as young people age

PARTICIPATION IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASSES

  • In 2013, less than half of high school students (48%) attended physical education classes on a weekly basis (64 percent of 9th-grade students but just 35 percent of 12th-grade students)
  • The percentage of high school students who attended physical education classes daily decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 1995 and remained stable at that level until 2013 (29 percent)
  • In 2013, 42 percent of 9th-graders and barely 20% of 12th-graders attended daily physical education classes

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