With all the electronic distractions available today—from countless technology devices, to unlimited Netflix streaming—the health dangers facing today’s teens are more pronounced than ever. In fact, a recent study found that out-of-shape and overweight teens are more likely to develop high blood pressure earlier and face greater health challenges sooner.
According to the study—which followed 1.5 million Swedish men for 26 years—the populations with the biggest risk for health problems are teens who are both overweight and out of shape. But even thin teens with low fitness levels face an increased risk of future problems with high blood pressure. High blood pressure problems aren’t something to be ignored. A sedentary teen today could easily grow up to be a middle-aged adult at serious risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of American kids between the ages of 12 and 21 don’t get regular exercise. This startling statistic and the recent results of this study drive home the importance of making sure your teens lead active lifestyles from a young age. But how can you persuade your kids to put down their devices and get moving? Here are a few tips.
1. Make it a family affair
If you’re having trouble encouraging your kids to get off the couch after school, try starting a new tradition of nightly family walks or bike rides. Remember, setting a good example of an active lifestyle for your children can go a long way in establishing the importance of healthy habits.
2. Find activities that don’t feel like exercise
Your teen doesn’t need a gym membership to get daily exercise. Turn on some music and have a dance party, spend an afternoon at the park, play a round of golf or go skiing.
3. Bring out their inner child
Teenagers may think they’re on the verge of adulthood, but their inner child is still alive and well. Reminding them how much fun it can be to play a game of tag, swing on the swing set or simply play outside with their friends can be a great start toward a more active lifestyle.
4. Help them find their sport
One of the best ways for teens to stay active is by joining a sports team. If traditional varsity teams aren’t your teen’s style, encourage them to try out alternative sport options, like karate, synchronized swimming or fencing. Show them that there is truly a sport out there for everyone.
5. Set goals together
Maybe there’s a local race or charitable walk you and your teen can sign up for together. Having something on the calendar to train for could be just the motivation you both need to stick to a new routine.
6. Make it easy
If there are roadblocks to your teen living a more active lifestyle, do what you can to remove them. For instance, if they do want a gym membership, take their request seriously and try to make it work with your budget. Or, if they have an activity they’ve been meaning to try—like yoga or a barre workout—help them find a studio nearby or a YouTube channel.
Most importantly, talk to your teen about their health and the long-term consequences of their stagnant lifestyle. By showing interest and making it part of the conversation, you’ll be taking the first steps toward lasting changes.
Need tips on getting your teen in shape? Download our free guide to getting fit and active.