We’ve all noticed that young people seem to spend more time with technology and less time being active. This trend is not without consequences for their physical and emotional health. You can help your teen get moving and get healthier with these tips.
Be the change you’d like to see…
Modeling change isn’t just about creating cultural shifts. It is also about being an example of behavior, habits, and values that are important to you. As the saying goes, children learn what they live. They often do what we do more readily than they do what we say. Lead the activity charge by including movement in family outings and vacation plans. Head to the pool, jump on your bikes or throw a ball around in the backyard. The family that plays together stays together – and healthier.
Use tech tools to your advantage
My teen son can also be guilty of too much tech time. The good news is he is also a bit competitive. Most days he gets in at least 15,000 steps for family bragging rights (I got the most steps!).
Today’s teens are stressed by crowded schedules. Be sure your teen has the flexibility to add physical exercise to the schedule without feeling overwhelmed. Consider blocking out regular free time for family sports or fitness at least weekly.
Join a team
Even if your teen doesn’t make the usual school teams, she or he can still join a sport. Try MeetUp for low-pressure teams that are fun even if you aren’t a star athlete.
Park the car
If you live close enough, encourage your teen to bike or walk to school rather than ride or drive.
Go for the combo
Help your teen decide on his or her motivation. Maybe what they really want is to have a little extra money. The question then may be how to combine physical activity with a money-making venture. Some ideas include a dog-walking service, offering gardening or lawn care or delivering newspapers.
Help your teen understand the why of exercise
Talk with your teen about why exercise matters. She or he can start now to develop healthy habits for life that support overall physical and emotional wellbeing. Sweeten the pot by understanding how you can tie whatever motivates your teen to some physical activity. For example, studies show that exercise supports better focus and cognition. Knowing that can motivate your high-achieving teen. Or being active can help you earn money. That may motivate the teen building up a bank account. Most importantly, have your own workout practice. Remember, kids learn by example.