School districts vary widely in the amount of physical education they offer in the curriculum, and by 10th grade physical fitness is usually no longer a daily part of the school curriculum. According to a recent Institute of Medicine report on physical activity among young people, even the best physical education curriculum fails to provide the necessary 60 minutes of recommended activity a day. Find out how much physical activity your child is getting each day at school and what sorts of activities they are doing in gym class. This will give you a better understanding of their overall level of physical activity.
Research has shown that even relatively small variations in the amount of physical activity young people get can make the difference between a healthy weight and being overweight. If your child is not physically active enough, encourage them to start by changing their behavior gradually. Even setting aside some time each day for jumping rope, kicking a ball in the yard, or skateboarding around the block will soon make a difference that your child will be able to see and feel.
Make Activity Appealing
If you are concerned that your teenager is not active enough, try to find ways to make physical activity appeal more to him. If they are shy about exercising with others, for example, home exercise videos could help them be more active. Your teen is now old enough that they can make their own choices about the kinds of physical activity they want to do. Help them understand that however they choose to be active is fine, as long as they are physically active on a regular basis.
Encourage your teenager to become active in organized sports, which can be an excellent way of get the recommended amounts of physical activity and establishing regular exercise habits that can become the basis of lifelong fitness.
Walk or Bike to School
One reason that children are less physically active than in previous generations is that fewer and fewer children walk or bike to school. If doing so is a safe alternative for your teen, encourage the practice.
Sports and Activities
Encourage your teen to try out different sports and activities and to find one that suits them. Some children resist team sports but can excel at individual sports like tennis or track. Make sure you let them sample a variety of sports to find their interest, and think of non-traditional sports, like fencing or archery, that might appeal to them. Reward and encourage persistence, so that even if they are not a “natural athlete” they still learn to enjoy participating and pushing themselves to improve.
Since most teens are not getting the recommended amount of sleep each evening, a 20-minute power nap could be helpful. However, experts caution that adolescents should not be sleeping after 4 PM because it will disrupt an evening of restful sleep. If your child chooses to nap, have them set an alarm to ensure that they wake up after 20 minutes.