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Motivating Teens to Exercise

by Shelley Frost, studioD

Getting your teen to exercise seems like a challenge, but don't give in to his sedentary preferences. An inactive lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to the website KidsHealth, teens who exercise an hour daily are able to maintain weight, have more confidence and feel energized. If your teen's lack of exercise is becoming a problem, ignite his motivation to move.

Talk About It

Your teen is old enough to understand the benefits of staying active. He might not care so much about avoiding heart attacks or diabetes, but he can see the value in feeling better about his appearance or having more energy. Talking about exercise shows him you care about his health and happiness. The conversation also gives you the opportunity to identify barriers that are keeping him from staying active. Perhaps he hangs out with friends who don't exercise or is worried about how he'll look during physical activity. He might have a previous embarrassing or negative experience related to exercise. If you can figure out what's holding him back, you can help him overcome the issues.

Offer Options

Exercise often brings to mind monotonous activities like calisthenics, running or competitive sports. If your teen isn't a natural athlete, those options aren't likely to appeal to him, so offer some other ideas. Ideas include recreational sports teams, yoga, backyard sports, splashing around in the pool, hiking or even video games that require you to move your entire body. KidsHealth.org recommends giving your teen control over his preferred method of physical activity, but the suggestions might help him make his choice.

Set Boundaries

You can't force your teen to exercise, but you can set boundaries and rules to encourage him to get moving. Limiting screen time is one way to promote exercise. Smart phones make it difficult to completely kick your teen off electronic devices, but you can follow the American Council on Exercise's recommendation to limit how much TV and computer time he has at home. Without the comfort of a glowing screen in front of him, he has more time to exercise. Another option is to limit his use of vehicles. Having him walk or ride his bike to school, work and friends' houses works in some physical activity during his day.

Offer Support

Your attitude and actions can show your teen support in his path to improved physical fitness. Keeping your own body active is an effective way to support your teen and improve your own health. If he doesn't mind, jump in and exercise with him, whether it's a bike ride around town or a friendly game of tennis. Words of encouragement when you see him choosing physical activity might motivate him to continue. KidsHealth.org suggests providing him with the equipment he needs to stay active, such as athletic shoes and sports equipment, for continued motivation. Financial support is sometimes needed to pay for items such as a gym membership or sports team fees.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience come from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Photo Credits

  • Andrew Olney/Digital Vision/Getty Images