[Guest Post] Teen Training: How to Motivate Your Teen to Exercise

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This fabulous post is by Mark’s Daily Apple, which is an awesome blog to help people maximize their health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking health and wellness–love his stuff!

If the only exercise your teen’s been getting lately is running up the stairs and slamming their bedroom door (which, if you need a silver lining, is good for both cardiovascular health and building upper body strength!) perhaps its time to start motivating them to try other, more civilized forms of exercise.

In addition to keeping trim and toned, kids that are active in their teenage years—when participation in organized sports and physical education typically declines—have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions later down the road. In addition, studies have shown that teens who exercise regularly have higher self esteem, perform better in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors—such as smoking, abusing alcohol or illegal drugs and engaging in unprotected sex—than their couch potato counterparts.

But sometimes motivating teens to exercise—or do anything for that matter—can be half the battle. The following are five easy tips to help motivate them to exercise and get them on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

1) Follow the leader
The old adage “monkey see monkey do” holds true whether you child is two or 22, especially when it comes to exercise. For example, if you grumble and complain through your whole workout, your child will soon pick up on these cues and begin associating it as just another chore. While you certainly don’t have to become a jack-of-all-sports to demonstrate your enthusiasm for physical activity, showing your teen that you enjoy exercise will help motivate them in their own fitness endeavors.

2) Viewers choice
There’s nothing a teen likes more than being in control, even if it is just overseeing the volume on their iPod. Empower their exercise habits—and increase the likelihood that they’ll make physical activity a part of their everyday life—by allowing them to pick the physical activities that most interest them. If they’re not into organized sports, for example, sign them up for a local gym where they can work up a sweat on the exercise equipment, stock up on home exercise videos, or encourage their new-found skateboarding habit (within reason—you’re still a parent after all!)

3) Friends Forever
When you’re a teen, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to catch up with your friends (your phone bill is probably proof of this!). Cash in on their constant need for companionship by encouraging them to join activities with a friend or letting them invite friends along for a walk or a trip to the pool. Chances are, they’ll be so busy gabbing to each other, they won’t even notice they’re working out!

4) Workin’ 9-5
Imagine if their was an activity for teens that would peel them away from that dastardly computer game, keep them physically active, and put a little money in their pocket (which in turn keeps more money in yours!). Turns out there is, and it’s called a job! Encourage your teen to apply for after-school or summer employment opportunities that will maximize their time spent being physically active, such as working as a junior camp counselor, baby sitter or an assistant coach for a youth sports teams. In addition to boosting their fitness, they’ll also earn a little cash, learn to take on new responsibilities and beef up their college resume as a side benefit!

5) No good deed goes unrewarded
You’ve hosted countless birthday parties, endured dance recitals, praised good grades and attended multiple graduations. Essentially, you’ve celebrated just about every milestone and accomplishment in your child’s life, and his or her achieving their fitness goals is certainly something worth making a fuss over. But rather than rewarding their mastery of a new sport or improved jump shot with a big ol’ sheet cake—sugar flowers optional—opt for prizes that will further their athletic pursuits, such as a new basketball, a pair of flashy sneakers or tickets to a sporting event of their choice.

Now, comparatively speaking, getting them to work out is certainly a heck of a lot easier than convincing them not to dye their hair pink!!

Thanks Marks Daily Apple, be sure to check out their blog for more tips like these for you or your family!

If you liked this article get more Radical Parenting in our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?

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  • bill swerzski

    There is just so much that we need to protect our children from these days. There is so much unhealthy junk food garbage out there that is specifically targeted to our young adults. Obesity is a major concern for inner city youth simply because of the McDonald’s dollar menu.

  • Nancy

    I love the ‘get a job’ idea! I’ve been trying to get my oldest to get a job for almost a year now. This might be the motivation she needs. Unfortunately, she’ll probably get a job working at Arby’s, which would cause her to inadvertently make all of her friends chubby while she gets thin.

  • http://vanessavanpetten.com Vanessa

    yes, absolutely. Obesity is a huge and growing problem here in the United States.

    Encouraging outdoor family activities as well as small parties, like lasertag, paintball, hikes, playing frisbee are all great and painless way to get kids moving without feeling like they are ‘exercising.’

  • http://AskTheTrainer.com Personal Trainer

    Kids these days are in horrendous shape and they aren’t improving.

    The problem does not lie with them but the parents. If you see your parents/relatives always complaining about being overweight and dieting you would probably assume you will get fat and dieting and exercise is just used to lose fat.

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