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Staying Fit - As A Teen

In the teen years, kids who used to be bundles of nonstop energy could start to lose interest in physical activity. They're faced with juggling a lot of interests and additional responsibilities between friends, school, homework and event part-time jobs. Kids who enjoy sports, exercising or playing outside tend to stay active throughout their lives.

Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation to encourage them to keep in going into the teen years.

The most important thing is that they keep moving! Any type of regular, physical activity can improve fitness and health.

Exercise should be a regular part of their day, like brushing your teeth, eating, and sleeping. It can be in gym class, joining a sports team, or working out on their own.

As parents you can help by:

  • Staying positive and have fun: There are many ways to give your teen positive attention such as volunteering together, making dinner together, and developing a fitness routine together. Studies show teens who spend more time with their parents have better social skills and have higher self-esteem. Spending quality time with your teen and giving him/her positive attention doesn't have to be complicated, nor expensive.

  • Get their heart pumping: Getting the heart rate up has significant benefits such as keeping off the extra pound, increased energy, a mood boost, and strengthening their immunity to fight germs and illnesses.

  • Warm up: Warming up before physical activities gently prepares the body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Stretching the muscles also help prevent injuries.

  • Watch less TV: The average youth spends 900 hours in school each year compared to the 1500 hours the average youth watches television.  Help your teen get away from TVs unrealistic expectations and forge real life healthy experiences.

  • Prepare/Eat three healthy meals a day: This should include at least 4 servings of fruits, 5 servings of vegetables, and 4 servings of dairy products.

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.

  • Cut back on the junk foods: It is understood that giving up on junk food wouldn't be easy, considering it is a tempting food choice. So, you should follow a gradual process of quitting junk food rather than doing it abruptly.

  • Encourage more sleep: Sleep needs vary, but on average, regularly sleeping more than 9 hours a night may do more harm than good. Research found that people who slept longer had more calcium buildup in their heart arteries and less flexible leg arteries, too.

  • Stay away from harmful substances: The time will come in almost every teen’s life when they are confronted with drugs or alcohol. Some lucky ones may not experience this kind of peer pressure. As parents, the best thing you can do is equip your kids with tools to say no and to protect themselves.

Help your teen commit to fitness by being a positive role model and exercising regularly, too. For fitness activities you can enjoy together, try bike rides, hitting a tennis ball around, going to a local swimming pool, or even playing games like capture the flag and touch football. Not only are you working together to reach your fitness goals, it's a great opportunity to stay connected with your teen.

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