Help Your Teen Lead an Active LifestyleWe all know that it’s important to lead an active lifestyle, regardless of your age. There are dozens of known benefits to regular exercise: better sleep, muscle strength, lower anxiety levels, positive self-esteem, clearer complexion, enhanced mood, improved focus, and a stronger immune system, just to name a few.

Not only do adults benefit from exercise; our children and teens do too.

There’s actually another essential reason to get your kids started on a habit of regular exercise now, while they’re young. Regular physical activity is crucial to your child’s brain.

When we get our heart pumping through aerobic exercise, our brain benefits from the increase in oxygen. During this process, it also produces a protein that has been linked to the growth of new brain cells, specifically in the location of the brain that is responsible for learning.  

Studies have proven that exercise has a positive impact on many aspects of student life:

  • memory

  • concentration

  • test scores

  • attention

  • behavior

  • learning skills

All students can benefit from these, right? Teens, with their increased academic load, interest in (okay, obsession with) technology, and responsibilities outside of school, are at a greater risk of being sedentary, especially if they have no interest in group sports.

So, what if your teen is not the sporty type or doesn’t like to exercise? That’s okay. Shift the focus from sports and exercise to having fun in order to still enjoy an active lifestyle.

Luckily, there are plenty of things to do that don’t involve expensive exercise equipment or a gym membership.

Let your teen to test out a variety of activities to find some that they enjoy. Encourage them to mix things up so they don’t get bored and give up. If they don’t want to exercise alone, participate alongside them, involve the whole family, or have them grab a friend to keep motivated.

Have them start small, slowly increasing their activity level, especially if your child isn’t already active.

Ideas to Get Your Teen Moving

  • Yoga (use a DVD or watch YouTube videos)

  • Start running or walking by using a couch to 5k program

  • Play a game of basketball

  • Go rollerblading

  • Do some circuit training (where you move through sets of specific exercises like squats, jumping jacks, push ups, etc.)

  • Play tennis

  • Exercise on a stability ball

  • Go on a hike

  • Skating 

  • Work on muscle building (use resistance bands, free weights, dumbbells, or your own body weight)

  • Play a game of volleyball

  • Go for a bike ride

  • Try rock climbing

  • Dance

  • Play active gaming systems games (Wii, Xbox Kinect)

You can also consider the season when thinking of activities your child might enjoy. For example, if your teens love the pool, beach, or lake try these:

  • Kayaking

  • Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

  • Swimming

  • Water Skiing

  • Surfing

  • Boogie boarding

  • Water aerobics

If they love being outside in the snow, try these:

  • Downhill skiing

  • Sledding

  • Snow tubing

  • Cross country skiing

  • Snowshoeing

For most teens, there is little appeal in exercising for the sake of exercising. But if you can capitalize on the enjoyment in the activity, you can guide them toward a healthy lifestyle of regular physical activity.

Their bodies and brains will thank you!

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