Teens Are Spending Less Time Outdoors Than Ever Before

Based on a new study, teens only spend 7.9 hours per week engaging in outdoor fitness activities.


Teens have a ton of commitments on their plates—pages of algebra homework, a history essay, those college applications. Maybe there's even a part-time job or volunteer gig thrown into the mix. Basically, they're busy! So busy that a recent study found that teens are spending less time outdoors, and it's significantly less than when their parents were kids.

Researchers from Hill + Knowlton Perspectives surveyed a group of Canadian teens (ages 12-17) and their parents about their physical fitness and found that only 7.9 hours of the average teen's week are devoted to outdoor activities. That number was more than doubled—17.5 hours—during the previous generation.

The parents who were polled attributed the increased time spent indoors to video games or social media. Of those parents, only one in five said that they place a priority on spending time outdoors as a family.

Here's what Elio Atunes, President and CEO of ParticipACTION (a non-profit that helps Canadians get active), said about the findings:

Regular physical activity, including time spent being active outdoors, can help teens reduce the risk of chronic disease, make friends, improve self-esteem, confidence and mental health, and even improve concentration and their grades. Unfortunately, only five percent of 12- to 17-year-olds are getting the 60 minutes of heart-pumping movement they need each day.

While these numbers are a bit alarming, change is still possible. Encouraging your teens to get moving is an easy fix! There are plenty of benefits of exercise, including a better night's sleep, reduced risk of cancer, and a boost to mental health.

However, make sure to avoid laying on the guilt. Another recent study found that when parents tried to force kids into exercising, it actually had the reverse effect. Instead, focus on the benefits above! Remember, exercise doesn't have to be boring. Hula-hooping definitely counts as a work-out!

With the weather getting colder, outdoor activities aren't always an option. But don't fret! Indoor exercise can still work wonders. Suggest teens try this 5-step workout that can be done in any setting.