Keeping physically active offers many different health benefits that will help your child throughout their life. The earlier a child starts to be physically active the more they’’ll develop a healthy and positive relationship and reduce their risk of numerous illnesses especially those that run in their own families.
However, most teenagers nowadays aren’t getting enough exercise. So, why is this the case?
With the explosion of gadgets and social media, teens have learned to scroll and type away using only their fingers very swiftly. But the rest of their bodies are woefully inactive – and the effects are far-reaching.
According to statistics conducted by the AHA (American Heart Association), only 1 in 4 young teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 get less than 1 hour of exercise every day. Screen time is partially to blame, along with decreasing physical education programs in schools. Furthermore, studies also indicated that while kids may be active in childhood, it’s typical to see a decline as they move into their teen years.
Lacking Motivation and Privilege
Computers, TVs, consoles, and smartphones promote a sedentary lifestyle. Daily hours in front of a screen is a regular teen schedule. Online apps such as FB, Instagram, Snapchat and even TicTok replaces the simple walk to a friend’s house and a physical get-together. Teens who spend long periods online or playing video games replace interacting with friends or even bicycling which serves as a bonding exercise.
Like adults, teens often lack the motivation or desire to exercise. If physical fitness hasn’t been a valued activity in the family, a teen is less likely to put forth the effort or find the motivation to exercise. If a teenager is overweight or feels self-conscious about their physical capabilities, they may also feel less motivated to exercise. Some teens in this situation feel embarrassed to exercise in public.
Teens also need access to exercise guidance, equipment, sports teams and space to participate in any physical activity. A lack of access makes it more difficult for them to exercise regularly. While access to physical fitness equipment and space is limited, helping your teens find creative ways to exercise is a way to overcome the barrier.
Teens are missing out on health benefits, which range from a healthier heart to better mental health, improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as:
- Heart disease.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
On study conducted with teenage boys said their favourite physical outdoor activities were basketball, running, football, bicycling and walking. On the other hand, girls favoured running, walking, basketball, dancing and bicycling.
Statistics show that teenage boys are more physically active than girls. Amazingly only 27% of boys and 22.5% of girls got the recommended 1 hour of exercise daily. That includes gym classes, organized activities and play.
It is important to note some consequences of physical inactivity for teenagers. Physical inactivity can:
- Lead to energy imbalance (e.g., expend less energy through physical activity than consumed through diet) and can increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
- Increase the risk of factors for cardiovascular disease, including hyperlipidemia (e.g., high cholesterol and triglyceride levels), high blood pressure, obesity, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
- Increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Increase the risk of developing breast, colon, endometrial, and lung cancers.
- Lead to low bone density, which, in turn, leads to osteoporosis.
In conclusion, it’s not necessarily the teenagers’ fault that they’re not more active. It is somewhat the parents obligation to get their kids out and about and not staring at the screen.
Also, further physical education in our schools is important for teenagers not only to develop positive relationship towards physical activity but to develop a greater understanding that physical activity can decrease the chances of developing comorbidities and living an unhealthy lifestyle.