Teens and 60-year-olds may not have a ton in common, but a recent study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that their activity rates are similar.
“Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds,” said the study’s senior author, Vadim Zipunnikov, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Biostatistics, in a press release.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day for children ages five to 17 years. The study found that teens are falling short of that, with more than half of adolescents not meeting that recommendation, with girls more likely to be inactive than boys.
Researchers noted the growing consensus for the benefits of reducing sedentary behavior and that even low-intensity activity would benefit kids.
While it's tough to compete with Netflix, video games, social media, it's not impossible. Here are some simple ways to get teens moving and active.
- Go for a walk or hike as a family.
I wouldn't say that my family is full of people looking for "Born to Hike" t-shirts. We don't naturally identify as hikers, but when we go on one, we have a great time.
Doing it as a family means that parents are literally walking the walking, too, because seeing adults model active behavior can make a big impact.
We also enjoy a good walk, especially as part of a trip to a forest preserve or state park. Have your teen look online to find a new location they'd like to explore.
An added bonus is that kids are often likely to start chatting as you walk. It can be a great way to connect with your adolescent.
One way to entice a resistant teen who loves social media: the promise of good Instagram images.
- Have a picnic and play some games.
Getting outside can encourage activity, so head to a local park with a picnic. Park far away so that you have to walk to your picnic site, and pack some balls or a few fun games to play when your family is done eating.
- Make it about others and giving back.
Charity runs and walks can be great ways to both be active and support a good cause. See if you can find a color run or one affiliated with a favorite sports team to get teens excited.
If your teens aren't quite so into cardio, see if there are elderly neighbors or families facing hardship that could use help with lawn mowing or gardening, or see if volunteers are needed to clean up a local park, beach, or nature preserve.
- Pick indoor activities that are fun and active.
Beating the heat this summer often means heading inside. Instead of a sedentary activity, though, consider getting your family moving.
The ice rink can be the perfect place to stay active and cool at the same time. Check out paintball or rock wall climbing. Bowling may not be a high intensity activity, but it's still more active than the movies.
- Use a Fitbit or fitness tracker to motivate.
Some teens are really motivated by competition, and if that works with your kids, get your family Fitbits and see who can rack up the most steps. Or offer incentives or rewards for reaching a certain number of steps.
A study by Seattle Children's Research Institute found that those technologies can work in getting teens to move, as discussed in this GeekWire article.
- Crank up the music for a dance party.
Get your groove on and get your exercise in with a fun family dance party. Blast the tunes and get silly dancing around the kitchen or family. Your teens may resist initially, but chances are they'll join in. Or break out the old Just Dance game.
With a few of these strategies, you can get your kids moving. What are your favorite ways to keep your kids active and not too sedentary?
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