April 23, 2024
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Fitness

How Many Minutes Should a Teenager Exercise a Day?

What teens need for their health and how much is too much

Teenagers need at least 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If your teen has a sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to take steps to encourage them to get up and get moving. Regular exercise can have tremendous benefits for your teen’s physical and mental health.

In addition, teens who exercise regularly are more likely to develop other healthier lifelong habits than teens who don’t.

This article discusses current medical guidelines for how much exercise teens need and what amount is too much. It also offers some suggestions for how you might be able to encourage your teen to get more physical activity.

Exercise Recommendations for Teens

Doctors recommend that teens age 13 to 18 engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. At minimum, your teen should get 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Ideally, they should spend 60 minutes exercising five to six times a week.

Teens who play sports may already get plenty of exercise in their practices and games. Those who aren’t interested in sports may struggle to squeeze in regular exercise.

Any regular physical exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a few days a week will improve their health and fitness level. You can work out a plan with your teen that’s easy to implement.

Here are a few fun ways for your teen to get the recommended amounts of exercise every day:

  • In-line skating, skateboarding, shooting hoops in the driveway, or riding a bicycle
  • Swimming in a community pool
  • Walking the dog or a neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one
  • Running errands on foot, skateboard, or by bicycle
  • Performing rigorous chores like mowing the lawn or raking leaves

Use what tools are available in your community already. Running up and down bleachers, doing chin-ups at a local park, or running around a track can be excellent ways to get exercise free of charge.

How Much Exercise Is Too Much for a Teenager?

Sometimes getting teens to exercise isn’t the problem. Instead, the problem is that a teen exercises too much. Too much exercise can actually be a serious problem that can take a toll on your teen’s physical and mental health.

Compulsive exercising is a real problem that has been linked to eating disorders. Teens who experience guilt and anxiety related to gaining weight may spend hours each day trying to burn off the extra calories. Teens who feel a lot of pressure to be thin or to have a certain body type may try to work out in an attempt to improve their appearance.

Here are a few warning signs that your teen is exercising too much:

  • Your teen makes exercise the focus of his life, ignoring friends, responsibilities, and commitments.
  • Your teen exercises several times every day or worries about putting on an ounce of weight.
  • Your teen experiences sprains, fractures, or other injuries but continues to work out.

How to Encourage Healthy Exercise

The best way to ensure your teen is getting healthy doses of daily exercise is to be a good role model. Get involved in family activities that involve healthy doses of physical activity. Go hiking, play tennis, or just go for a family walk together.

Limit your teen’s screen time, as indoor activities often lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Often, once a teen gets up and moving, they will feel more energized. Encourage your teen to put away the electronics and step outside.

Talk to your teen often about the importance of exercise, but keep the emphasis on health, not weight. Although obesity is a major problem among teens, eating disorders can also be life-threatening.

Talk about the importance of having strong muscles and healthy bones. If your teen seems to have body image issues, seek professional help.

Summary

It’s important for teenagers to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a few days each week. Ideally, your teen should aim for an hour of exercise most days of the week.

Teens who are involved in sports tend to get enough exercise. Teens who lead a more sedentary lifestyle should be encouraged to do activities like shooting hoops, walking the dog, or active chores like raking leaves.

Pay attention if your teen seems to be exercising too much or is too focused on their weight. This can be a sign of an eating disorder, which requires treatment from a healthcare provider.

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