Exercising is one of the healthiest habits you can form to have a healthy life as an adult. And it has some bonus effects right now. Young people who exercise even a little every day can sleep better and find it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Any exercise counts, but your fitness goal should be to do some kind of aerobic activity like walking or jogging for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, up to an hour of exercise every day.
Many people think exercise is about having a perfect body or losing weight, or being good enough at a sport to play on a school team. But what fitness is REALLY about is your total wellbeing, feeling confident and providing stress relief, and preventing chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. Any movement or activity that you enjoy is good for your health.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on how teens can become fit with some small and easy changes.
- Stay positive and have fun. Find an activity that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with it if you choose something you like. You could join a sports team, run or walk around your neighborhood, play basketball with friends or move with a yoga video on YouTube. You might find it more fun if you can find a friend or family member to work out with you.
- Take it one step at a time. Small changes can add up to better fitness, according to AAP. Try walking or riding your bike to a friend’s house instead of getting a ride or taking public transit. Or get off the bus or subway a few blocks away, and walk the rest of the way. Use the stairs. Add on more distance a little at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be walking for miles!
- Get your heart going. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it includes aerobic activity, which makes you breathe harder and increases your heart rate. This increases your fitness level and makes your heart and lungs work better. Basketball, running, swimming, and dancing are all aerobic exercises. You can start with just a few minutes, and add more as you get stronger.
- If you are having any pain with exercise, please consult a doctor before further activity.
Does thinking about working out stress you out? How much you exercise has nothing to do with how good a person you are. You’re amazing just the way you are! Exercise should be fun, not a chore or punishment. Find something you enjoy doing, and moving more will be a pleasure.
Before you start a new exercise program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other health care provider. They can make sure your program is healthy, safe and appropriate for you. Here are some ideas to help you get motivated.
Explore some different activities and see what you like. Your local YMCA or community center may have classes or team sports you would enjoy.
Fitting Exercise in Your Schedule
The good news is you don’t have to do a day’s worth of exercise in one session. Here are some ideas to work exercise into your day.
- Try getting up 15 minutes early and do yoga or some crunches and planks or push-ups.
- Walk after school for 15 or 20 minutes and get your heart rate up.
- Walk or bike home from school (if it’s safe). Make sure to use a helmet when biking or skateboarding!
- Take a break from homework (or put down that video game!) and hip-hop dance with a YouTube video.
If You Live in the New York City Area
The Teen Fit program is available free of charge at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center for young people ages 10-22. Teen Fit helps young people become active and healthy with exercise, workout and dance fitness classes. Classes take place at the Center or the 92nd Street Y. Teen Fit also includes nutritional education and mental health services, and access to medical care. All services at the Center are confidential, free of charge and offered without judgment. You’re welcome here, whatever shape you’re in. Contact us to find out more.
This information is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services, only general information for education purposes only.