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Physical Activity

Youth benefit from at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily (things the elevate your heart rate and breathing). Physical activity improves both the physical and mental health of teens. Teens benefit from multiple types of physical activity including:

Aerobic Activities

Running, swimming, biking, dancing, or walking for at least 60 minutes (recommended at least 3 days per week) 

Muscle-Strengthening Activities

Using resistance bands, climbing stairs, dancing, biking, lifting weights, doing push-ups, squats, and sit-ups (recommended at least 3 days per week)

Bone-Strengthening Activities

Running, jumping rope, or doing an activity that involves rapid changes in movement (recommended at least 3 days per week)

Higher levels of physical activity in teens have been associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety and improved abilities to sleep, concentrate, and learn.

Tips for Increasing Teens’ Levels of Physical Activity

  • Promote physical activity options that youth will enjoy. Both structured (e.g., team sports, programs) and unstructured options (e.g. going for a walk, playing pickup) are valuable.

  • Encourage active transportation. Walking or biking to school, the grocery store, or a friends’ house are great ways to increase physical activity.

  • BONUS TIP: Ensure youth have protective equipment such as helmets, and/or elbow and knee pads for activities involving wheels, heights, and speed.

  • Encourage and provide non-competitive physical activity programs /options that youth can do just for fun 

  • Don’t make physical activity about things like “losing weight” or prioritizing physical appearance. Having a positive body image and body confidence is also important to young people’s mental health.

  • Spread activities out over the course of a day. Taking the stairs, walking the dog, or biking/walking to school, can be combined with other activities to reach the 60 minute daily recommendation.

  • Link physical activity with other youth interests and hobbies (e.g. hiking and photography, going for a walk with family, playing pickleball with friends).

  • Encourage young people to try new ways of being physically active to learn what they like and keep them from getting bored.

  • Lead by example - adults can model physical activity by prioritizing it and making it a part of their routine.

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