How Much Exercise Should My Teen Get?

teenage girl playing soccer
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Is your teen getting enough exercise? With more teens spending time in front of the computer, and with cutbacks in school gym classes, our teens don't usually get enough exercise.

The recommendation is that teens get sixty minutes of moderate exercise each day. Moderate exercise can be a brisk walk, aerobics, bike riding, or other similar modes of exercise.

Is your teen falling short? Most teens are.

Use this as a goal to reach towards and find ways to incorporate more exercise into daily routines. 

Ideas for Increasing Your Teen's Exercise

Many teens are very busy -- but if they're not actually involved with team sports, dance, or other athletic activities, their time may be taken up with sedentary activities. Your teen may tell you that they simply have no time for exercise.

While there's nothing wrong with studying hard, joining the chess club, playing video games with friends, or getting involved with art, theater, or music, none of these activities are likely to build stamina, endurance, or heart health. What's worse, obese teens are at increased risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other physical ailments -- all of which have increased dramatically among young people.

How can you encourage your teen to get active?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Choose a few days a week for your teen to walk or bike to school.  There may be some resistance at first, but who knows: your teen may even enjoy it!
  1. Look into non-competitive or intramural sports programs that require relatively little time commitment and make it fun to get active.
  2. Suggest physical activity that supports their existing interests. For example, new types of video games are actually built around dance and fitness, making it easy to socialize and have fun while also exercising
  1. Consider making physical activity more interesting. Walking on a treadmill is boring, but perhaps your teen would enjoy the challenge of rock climbing, or the competitive experience of a 5K race.
  2. Build physical activity into your family's routine. What does your family usually do on the weekend? Could you build a hike, bike ride, ice skating, or some other physical activity into your regular plans?
  3. Offer rewards for physical achievement. What does your teen love? Consider having them track their activity to earn points or dollars toward the purchase of an experience or item your teen wants but can't afford.
  4. Give your teen a fitness tracking device. Many adults and teens are highly motivated by watching the steps (and calories) add up -- and your teen may even decide, on his own, to take the stairs just to earn a virtual "well done!"

While it may not be possible to reach the ideal of 60 minutes of exercise per day, seven days each week, it's certainly possible to increase your teen's fitness.

 Every little bit helps!


The MyPyramid Food Guide. U.S. Health and Human Services. March 28, 2009.

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