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What Parents Need to Know About Teens and Physical Activity


The average 19 year old in the US is as sedentary as a 60 year old, according to a recent study by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. After checking fitness trackers placed on participants aged 6 to 84, researchers found that physical activity was lower than expected among kids and teenagers.

Experts such as the World Health Organization recommend at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day for adolescents, but only 50% of males and 25% of females aged 12 to 19 are meeting that standard.

The study suggests focusing more on the times of day with the least activity, and paying more attention to low-intensity activity.

If you're a parent concerned about helping your teen to manage their weight and stay fit, there are many things you can do. Take a look at these ideas to help you begin.

Activities for Different Times of Day

The study singled out two opportunities for modifying daily schedules. Try doing something different with your mornings when kids and teens are least active, and take advantage of afternoon hours between 2 and 6 pm.

Try these activities:

1. Wake up early. If you want to squeeze in more activity, you'll need more time. Go to bed early and move your alarm up an hour or two.

2. Warm up. Even a brief workout helps. Gather the family together for a few whole body stretches and Pilates moves.

3. Walk the dog. If you love animals, a pet can motivate your family to get moving. Join your dog for a stroll around the park or a quick trip to the park.

4. Talk with your school. See what goes on in your teen's physical education class. Ask about making time outdoors and exercise available during recess. Some schools even give students the opportunity to earn points by running around the track during any breaks.

5. Visit the gym. Buy a family gym membership and stop off for a while before returning home from school and work. Sign up for group classes, use the treadmill, or lift weights.

Low intensity Activities

Even if your teen plays soccer, that may account for just a one-hour burst of activity in the whole week. The study urged paying more attention to the big picture.

These low intensity activities will also help get your teen moving:

1. Stand up. Cut down on the amount of time spent sitting around. Limit hours on the TV and computer or use a standing desk.

2. Assign tasks. Burn calories while raking leaves and vacuuming the stairs. You'll also be teaching your teens to take on responsibility.

3. Develop hobbies. Pay attention to your teen's interests so you can suggest hobbies they'll want to pursue. They may love modern dance or building robots.

Other Tips:

1. Be a role model. Your teen will follow your example. Show them that you work out on a regular basis, and lead an active life.

2. Discuss health issues. Talk about how physical fitness helps you to lead a longer and fuller life. Bring home interesting magazines or browse online for the latest news.

3. Make healthy choices. Look at your lifestyle and how it impacts your family's health. Aim for a diet that's rich in whole foods, including lots of vegetables and fruits. Manage stress with physical exercise and good quality rest. Show your teens how to choose supportive friends and build a strong social network.

Regular physical activity lowers your teen's risk for obesity, helps them to build a strong body, and enhances their academic performance. Look for positive changes you can make to encourage more exercise at home and in school.

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