Parents have always struggled to inspire their teenagers to stop living a sedentary lifestyle and get some exercise – especially in the digital age. And who can blame the teens? Exercising after a long day at school or extracurricular activities is probably the last thing a teenager wants to do every day.
However, teenagers who aren’t physically active are more likely to develop physical health problems down the road and often suffer from depression.
Motivating your teenager to start developing healthy exercise habits early on lays the foundation for their well-being into adulthood.
Here are three ways you can help them on the road to fitness.
1. Make It Fun
One reason your teen is reluctant to do physical activities may be because it seems like hard work and no play. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are many fun activities to help teens get that all-important hour of exercise every day – like a dance session to their favorite music, some fun indoor pe games with friends, a swim in the ocean, or a long hike in beautiful scenery. Finding a physical activity that your teenager will enjoy is key – that way, exercise will be something to look forward to instead of something to avoid.
2. Foster Self-Motivation
If you can find something your teenager is passionate about, you can foster self-motivation to get moving.
For instance, your teen may already have a goal that can serve as exercise – like meeting new friends. In this case, you could motivate them to work out by signing them up for a social physical activity like pick-up hockey or football games. Extracurricular sports with teams are a great way to motivate a social teen to get some exercise – and have fun while doing it.
As another example, say your teenager has trouble sleeping at night and has difficulty concentrating throughout the day. You could help them reach the goal of getting a good night’s sleep by showing them that physical activity will help fight their insomnia, which will boost their energy levels during the day.
When you uncover something your teenager wants to do, try to connect their goals to doing more exercise and encourage them to give it a try.
3. Build Up to Bigger Goals Over Time
You can help your teenager get more exercise by starting small. As psychologists know, breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones is more achievable when you make small changes over time that can be repeated.
Anyone can form negative associations with something if their first experience isn’t positive – exercise is no different. Don’t push your exercise-adverse teen to try a heavy workout when introducing them to exercise; start slowly. You could begin with something easy – like a 10-minute bike ride to the park every morning and gradually increase the time by a few minutes every second day.
Once your teen gets used to physical exertion, they can build the confidence needed to start biking for 30 or 60 minutes per day.