Is your teen getting enough exercise?

Estimated read: 7 minutes 

Encouraging your teen to be more active can be difficult. With social media and gaming consoles being a part of their daily lives, trying to motivate them to put them away and exercise instead can be a frustrating battle. 

Key points: 

  • The UK department of health recommends that young people (aged five to 18) should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Encouraging your teen to work up a sweat may result in the added benefits of them having more energy and positive mental and emotional health
  • Work exercise into a family routine so that it becomes a whole family approach. Try to introduce family walks as a way of spending more time with each other and being active
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Why keeping active is important

Keeping fit and active has a proven link to good health in later life. It produces endorphins which are chemicals that cause you to feel content and happy. Encouraging your teen to work up a sweat may result in the added benefits of them having more energy and positive mental and emotional health. The UK department of health recommends that young people (aged five to 18) should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Fitness can also boost concentration so your teen may work better at school or college 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.

How to help your teen become active

Avoid telling your teenager what to do as they most likely will switch off what you are trying to communicate to them. Instead, introduce them to the idea of doing something fun and active that you feel they would enjoy. Do your research and give them plenty of choices. 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 PE lessons. Exercise isn’t all about sports; make them aware that there are plenty of other options like dance, karate, swimming, skating or yoga available.

Work exercise into a family routine so that it becomes a whole family approach. Use 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. Try to introduce family walks as a way of spending more time with each other and being active.

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 online exercise video.

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.

Further resources 

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. If you are worried about your child's health, please do make an appointment with your GP for help and advice.

Watch our video for further tips and guidance 

This page was updated on September 2021

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