With more than a quarter of all secondary school pupils clinically obese and experts predicting a public health time bomb if teenagers don’t increase their fitness levels, many parents tell us that they find it hard to motivate their teenagers to get active. It seems that TV, the internet and computer games are replacing the more physical outdoor activities that young adults once amused themselves with. Also, your teenager may be dealing with social and school pressures which leave little time for exercise.
Why is exercise important?
- Keeping fit and active has a proven link to good health in later life.
- Exercise produces endorphins (chemicals that cause you to feel more content and happy); encouraging your teen to work up a sweat may result in the added benefits of them being in a better mood and having more energy.
- Fitness can also boost concentration so your teen may work better at school if they exercise regularly.
- Competitive and non-competitive sports encourage people to communicate and interact with each other and will help your teenager to develop team building and boost their self-confidence.
Top tips for getting your teen active
- Remember, your teenager is at a stage where they are likely to be showing their independence and so telling them what to do and when to do it might cause tension and arguments. Sit down and talk to your teen about what they would enjoy doing and support them by finding out what facilities there are in your local area.
- For some teenagers, suggesting a sporty activity may bring back unpleasant memories from school where sport often means competition. Exercise isn’t all about sports; make them aware that there are plenty of other options like dance, karate, roller/ice skating or yoga available.
- Work exercise into your teenager’s (and your own) everyday routine – take the stairs rather than the lift, walk up escalators, get off the bus one stop early and leave the car at home whenever you can.
- Balancing school and seeing mates, plus any number of other pressures, can mean that your teen feels they don’t have much time to exercise. Make it clear that doing a little, whenever you can, will still be beneficial and that your teen should be able to work some activities into their schedule – even if this is only taking a walk to the shops or putting on an exercise DVD for 30 minutes.
- You could also try encouraging your teenager to work exercise into their social lives – instead of a trip to the cinema, you could suggest bowling or skateboarding.
- If your teenager must play for hours on their games console, why not encourage more active games that require them to move around - like a dance mat or an interactive sports game? These types of games are also more social and work well as an activity that can bring family members together.