Throughout childhood and adolescence, there are so many reasons why exercise and activity can reduce and teenagers become more inactive – studying for exams and exercise isn’t always seen as ‘cool’.
In today’s social media society, there’s extra pressure for teenagers to look a certain way or to have a particular brand of sports clothing, and if they don’t then, there’s a chance they’ll stop or find something else to occupy their time.
Exercise has to be fun when started early, mainly so they don’t know they’re exercising – game of footie with their mates, quick run around the field after school playing tag, riding their bikes round the local park on a Sunday morning.
We all know that habits are hard to form, but they are also quite hard to re-form once they’re broken. Sure, life will get in the way and what they’re able to do now won’t always be sustainable, but reducing their activity is a big difference to stopping altogether, and then not being able to get going again.
The aim should be 60 minutes per day, and a mixture of vigorous exercise, moderate exercise and strengthening exercises – adding variety will help keep things interesting, and not make it feel like such a chore! Throughout childhood and adolescence is the perfect time to try new sports – I’ve spoken to plenty of people who wished they’d tried sports earlier in life. Who wants to be a beginner as an adult?!
There are plenty of benefits to be had too:
• Weight control – we don’t want to get hung up on weight, I know, but exercise helps with weight control throughout life.
• Better skin – blood flow to your face increases during exercise which can help give you a lovely glow, but also flush out some of the toxins which can cause bad skin.
• Fewer colds – with exercise your immune system gets stronger, meaning you can fight off the lurgy more easily.
• Improved mood – endorphin release during and after exercise has been proven to improve moods and the serotonin can help keep you calm.
• Stronger bones – repetitive weight-bearing exercise increase your bone density (also important throughout adulthood), which can help prevent osteoporosis.
• Less stress – regular exercise can reduce the amount of stress hormones within the body.
• Stronger muscles – building muscles can help prevent injury, but also more muscle mass burns more calories, which can help with weight control.
• More brain power – increased blood flow to the brain during exercise can help with transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the brain. This is really important whilst studying, so regular exercise is a must.
Kids can have so much pressure heaped upon them, so finding something that they enjoy doing is paramount. Giving children information about nutrition is equally important, but I think the effect of exercise can’t be underestimated.
I had a really sporty childhood, and those benefits are still with me today – I’m interested in what my body can do, I like to try new things, and the way that exercise improves my mood (and general wellbeing) is amazing – some of the friends I made during my childhood sport days are still friends now, so I think it gives people another circle of friends to rely on.
Keeping children and teenagers interested in sport is hard, so I‘d be happy to hear any tips you have.