With teenagers already juggling various activities, such as school work, family time, chores, and other obligations, getting a sufficient amount of physical activity might not land as a priority. However, physical activity is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making it important for teens to be aware of what constitutes as physical activity and how long they should exercise. With this knowledge, teens should strive to meet or even surpass these guidelines everyday.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it is recommended that youth between the ages of 6 and 17 do at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. There are four types of physical activity: moderate-intensity aerobic, vigorous-intensity aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening. Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic include bicycle riding, speed walking, dancing, and active recreation (e.g. hiking, rollerblading, and skateboarding). Exercises under the vigorous-intensity aerobic category include martial arts, running, and sports (e.g. soccer, swimming, and tennis). Muscle-strengthening activities include push-ups, sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches), swinging on playground equipment/bars, resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands, and games such as tug-of-war. Activities meant to be bone-strengthening include games such as hopscotch, skipping, jumping rope, or sports such as basketball and volleyball.
Under the guidelines set by HHS, it is recommended that as part of the 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, at least three days a week should include vigorous-intensity physical activity, such as running or playing sports. In addition, there should be at least three days of muscle-strengthening physical activity and at least three days of bone-strengthening physical activity. In order to meet these recommendations, it is encouraged that teens engage in a variety of enjoyable activities that are appropriate for their age.
Benefits of physical activity include keeping one’s heart, bones, and lungs strong and healthy, maintaining a healthy body weight, improving one’s self esteem and mood, performing better in school, and lowering the risk of several diseases and health problems, such as diabetes. On the flip side, the risks of not getting enough physical activity include stiff joints, poor posture, being overweight, high blood pressure, strokes, and other health concerns.