When we meet with students at Green Ivy, we coach them about more than just academics. We also have them reflect on their overall lifestyle habits, from stress management and nutrition to sleep and functional exercise. It’s recommended that teens get at least one hour of physical exercise a day, but recent studies have shown that only one in four 12-15 year-olds are actually getting that amount. While younger children tend to be fairly active, when the teen years hit, more sedentary habits often set in.
Studies show that on average, teens and tweens are spending more than seven and a half hours a day on various media, which includes watching TV, listening to music and surfing online (which doesn’t include homework screen time!) so it’s no surprise that they can’t seem to find the time to exercise.
This trend is especially alarming given the statistics on teens and obesity, but technology isn’t solely to blame. Physical education programs are being cut nationwide, and often, parents limit their children’s outdoor activities because they are worried about safety, whether that be in the form of bullying or busy intersections.
Also, while many students participate in team sports, the idea of “functional exercise” isn’t familiar to them, so they don’t think about partaking in a less structured kind of physical activity that can reduce stress and boost health immensely, like yoga and swimming, or simply riding a bike around the neighborhood.
Research also shows that active kids turn into active adults, and there is increasing evidence that daily exercise can be used to improve self-esteem, manage stress and teach teens and tweens life skills like teamwork and perseverance. However, this doesn’t mean it’s always necessary to have them participate in an organized sport. Encouraging more physical activity in your children can be as simple as suggesting a walk after dinner as a family—the key is to get them moving.