Keeping Teens Healthy - Benefits of Physical Activity
What’s it all about?
Every teen needs his or her own type of physical activity for optimal health. Some teens enjoy and participate in team sports. Others may feel awkward about their bodies, and don’t want to look clumsy in front of their peers. Alternatives to team activities include weight training, jogging, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, dancing, and swimming. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends participating in moderate and vigorous physical activity each week. Teens need to be encouraged to be active and have opportunities available to them to meet the following recommendations:
- Moderate physical activity, equivalent to brisk walking, 30 minutes a day, at least 10 minutes at a time, 5 or more days a week.
- Vigorous physical activity—such as jogging—for at least 20 minutes a day, 3 or more days a week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that social support from family and friends has been “consistently and positively related to regular physical activity.” So as an adult in a teen’s life, it’s time to get started! According to the 2002 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey:
- Older students are less likely than younger students to engage in vigorous cardiovascular exercise. About 80% of 6th graders say they participated in vigorous physical activity meeting the Surgeon General’s recommendation compared to about 65% of 12th graders.
- Generally, boys are more likely than girls to engage in vigorous physical activity. For instance, among 12th graders, about 70% of boys engage in vigorous physical activity 3 or more days a week as compared to about 55% of girls.
- Only about a third of students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade say they participated in moderate physical activity meeting the Surgeon General’s recommendation.
- Older students are less likely to report attending physical education class. About 70% of 8th graders attend physical education classes in an average week as compared to about 40% of 12th graders.
- About a quarter of adolescents surveyed were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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