Many of us find it tough to fit exercise into our day. For teenagers, it’s a mixed bag. Teenagers participating in a sport are getting plenty of exercise, at least during the season. But teenagers not engaged in athletics are frequently not getting anywhere near the amount of exercise they need. So here are some top ideas for getting your teen to move.
1. You don’t have to play organised sports.
If your teenager doesn’t like organised sports, don’t sweat it. You just don’t want them to be sedentary. Exercise for teens can be walking the dog or riding a bike. Even playing those active video games is better than just sitting there. It also doesn’t have to be a single activity. If walking the dog and then playing an active video game adds up to 30 or so minutes, then mission accomplished.
2. They should enjoy it.
The key, however, is to find activities your teenager wants to do. Some teenagers aren’t super-athletic, or good runner, netballers, hockey players, swimmers, etc. So try to find an activity that your teenager wants to participate in. It doesn’t have to be at school; you could join them up to play tennis at a local club, golf, yoga, or spinning classes at the gym. The options are endless.
3. Make it a family (or friends) affair.
You may already be anticipating the eye rolls, but it is possible to exercise as a family. And as in all things wellness, parents should be modelling the behaviour they want their teenagers to adopt. Sometimes, it’s just saying something like “We’re all going for a walk”. There’s always the “I don’t want to go!” from someone, but five seconds into it, everyone’s happy and having a good time. Friends can also be helpful when it comes to encouraging exercise for teens. Maybe your sedentary teenager would be willing to sign up for a gym class with a friend. Siblings can also help, and working out with a sibling can encourage a bit of sibling competition within exercising. They will work harder when they work out because they will want to outdo each other.
4. Work up to it.
If your teenager has not been physically active for a while, they will need to work up to it. If you try to get them to do 60 minutes right away, then they will give up. Start with shorter sessions a couple of times a week, and then work up to longer sessions. The Nike Training Club app is great, as it has some longer workouts to work up to, but also short 15-minute workouts that everyone can do. Try not to overwhelm your teen with all these significant changes at once; take it slowly.
5. Don’t nag.
Like most things with teenagers, nagging doesn’t help, and it may even hurt your cause. So if your encouragements have crossed the line to nags, give yourself a time out. Redirect your energy into planning active family outings, keeping up with your own exercise routine, and being less generous with the car keys or driving them around. Let your teenager be independent and either walk, ride their bike, or use public transport then walk to where they want to go.
6. They probably want to get active.
The thing with teenagers is they probably want to be active. They either just don’t have the motivation to get started, or they don’t know how to approach the subject with you. If they lack motivation, but you can see they want to be active, then try starting the conversation with them. Ask if they want to start doing a sport, or going to a gym. Maybe suggest for their next birthday or Christmas that they can have some personal training sessions to get them going.