Get on the Move
Being physically active is important for every teen’s health. Here are some fun activities you can try.
How many minutes should a teenager spend being physically active each day? Doctors recommend 60 minutes of daily exercise. Many of you might be thinking, “Hey, I’m not captain of the football team.” Don’t worry—you don’t have to play organized sports to get the exercise your body needs.
“Go for a brisk walk with a family member or jump rope with a friend,” says Dr. Joel Brenner, a physician from Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, who specializes in adolescent sports medicine. “Sometimes I give my patients a prescription to turn up the music and dance in their rooms.”
If that sounds like fun, guess what? The best type of exercise is fun. And it doesn’t have to leave you gasping for air and drenched in sweat, either. Instead, you should work to get your heart rate higher than normal. Basically, if your body feels like it’s putting out an effort while you’re being active, you’re accomplishing the task.
You Decide When and Where
Here’s some more good news: You don’t have to do an hour of activity all at once. It’s fine to break up the 60 minutes over the course of the day. For example, you can take an invigorating 20-minute walk to school in the morning and then fit in another 20 minutes of exercise in gym class. After school, you can meet up with friends for an impromptu game of Ultimate Frisbee.
And we have even more good news: You can make chores part of your exercise routine—as long as the chores are physically challenging. Examples of that include mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and shoveling snow.
What happens if you fall short of getting 60 minutes of exercise one day? “That’s normal,” Brenner says. “An hour a day is a recommendation by doctors. If you get a total of only five hours in one week, that’s fine.”
Exercising on a daily basis is good for both your short-term and long-term health. The exercise habits you pick up now will help you stay healthy well into your adult years. And in the short term, being physically active will give you more energy, improve your concentration in school, and even help keep you in a good mood.
Proof It Works
Tiffany Fu, a 15-year-old sophomore from Edison, New Jersey, has benefited from being physically active. She spends at least an hour each day engaged in some sort of physical activity—from playing volleyball with friends to helping her family with yard work. “Being active helps reduce stress,” Tiffany says. “Not only do I stay in shape, but I also get to spend time with friends.”
If you want to work toward the goal of being physically active for 60 minutes a day, think about keeping track of your progress in an exercise journal. Try starting with 20 minutes of daily exercise. Then gradually work your way up to 60 minutes over the next few weeks. Before you know it, you’ll reach your goal and start reaping the benefits of being physically active.