The lazy teenager trope has been overdone in pop culture. In reality though, the youth and teen years are the best time to instill lifelong healthy lifestyle habits that will stick well beyond high school graduation. Physical activity is essential, and exercise is especially important for teenagers who are gaining weight, height, and strength.
The benefits of encouraging physical fitness in teens are well documented:
- Aids and supports maintenance of a healthy body weight;
- Exercise improves concentration;
- Strength-bearing exercises such as jumping, running, and brisk walking can help keep bones strong; and
- Exercise lowers the risk of developing diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Here are some proven strategies for getting your teenager off the couch and into a lasting healthy relationship with health and fitness.
Limit screen time
Technology has become such an integral part of our lives that it can be hard to remember that screen time is a privilege, not a right. Treat it as such. Granted, technology is required in certain scenarios, like for keeping in contact and working on school assignments, but without limits in place, it becomes very easy for teens to overdo screen time. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that American teens spend up to nine hours per day on screen, between smartphones, TVs, computers, tablets, and gaming consoles. Children who spend a great deal of time on screens tend to have higher obesity rates then their screen-less counterparts.
A good first step in limiting screen time is to model proper screen time behaviour yourself. A good second step is to incorporate a system in which your teen can earn screen time (through chores, even potentially through exercise).
Make exercise a family activity
Physical activity can be difficult to integrate into a teenager’s life as they tend to have a busy schedule and a social life. Find ways to get active together as a family. Walking the dog, going for hikes, skiing, going for bike rides, signing up for a marathon – there is no shortage of ways to break a sweat, family-style.
Encourage mindful eating habits
Instilling mindful eating begins with having the right food in the house. If your pantry is stocked with junk food, that will be what your teen puts into their body. Keep a selection of healthy snacks on hand and get them involved in meal planning and cooking activities.
Buy them a gym membership
Teenagers need a place where they can have fun and have the exercise they need to maintain health and happiness. A place where fun meets fitness. The gym can be that place. Not only do gyms have a wide range of ways for teens to work out, giving them options that keep it fun, but most also have a selection of classes available, potentially introducing your teen to an even wider range of ways to get fit.
The sooner one commits to a lifelong health and fitness journey, the better. And NHQ is pleased to be a part of that journey, with our team of experts that can coach you on how to best meet your health goals. Reach out today!