Staying Fit as a Teen

Mariah Flores, Contributor

As a teenager, without a consistent sport, it is hard to want to stay active and even harder to find ways to do that safely. But research shows that a good amount of physical activity 6 days a week can make you feel more energetic, improve focus and attention and assemble a happier outlook on life. This constant physical activity not only improves you mentally though but can also be beneficial physically. It helps maintain a healthy weight and prevent medical/health issues down the road.

So how do you do “fitness” in your teen years? Physical activity teen guidelines recommend getting at least one hour of fitness every day, six days a week, and taking one rest day. Teens can be active in sports and group fitness activities like weight training and HIIT workouts or running. Any fun pastime can become a fitness-related activity without you even realizing it. Swimming, yoga, dribbling a ball around, or shooting a basketball with some friends are all ways to get in some physical activity without going for a run or workout in a gym.

How can you find the motivation to be active though? When someone tells you what to do or just to go be active it makes you want to do it a lot less, but rather deciding on your own to go spend some time outside and deciding how to do it make you want to as it was your decision. Plus once you start, even if it is as a discipline, being active gradually becomes something your brain is hardwired to do. On days you do not you find yourself wishing you had. A good way to decide on a fun activity is to see what friends are doing, joining them in whatever they do will result in you having more fun even if you are not very good at the activity. Plus competing with friends or against them makes you work harder and put more effort into whatever you are trying to accomplish.

An important thing to remember when creating a plan or joining a team is that the time commitment works with your already-in-place schedule. Sometimes that means getting in a quick visit to the gym before or after school or getting up a little earlier to run, whatever it takes to get in some physical activity. Online programs or workout videos are a good alternative to a gym or team sport but you have to make sure you are still getting a sufficient amount of time outside each day. Online things you can do in your own home are more comfortable for many teens because it is more flexible and no one is watching.

Fitness is for everyone, so try to include your family in your fitness journey as well. Have fun swimming together, participating in after-dinner walks, family bike rides, or playing sports in the backyard! Your fitness journey, while it may be hard at first, comes with all the benefits of feeling better mentally and physically. And after a while, you may just start to have some fun with it.