It seems that to get older - even as a child - means to get lazier. And that truly bodes badly for kids from a health and weight perspective. Now personally, having raised two teens I can tell you that though my daughter was invested in tennis and played regularly in tournaments and for her school, a lot of her teen girl friends abandoned exercise because they didn't like getting sweaty. So even though there are plenty of female sports icons in everything from gold to basketball to beach volleyball and beyond, the message that getting sweaty is cool is not getting a whole lot of teenage girl attention. Boys on the other hand seem to trade off outdoor playtime for more video game time and internet use. It's not about the sweat for them. Someone needs to build exercise equipment with a text messaging center - apparently a TV screen (which is on a lot of exercise equipment these days) isn't enough to engage them. And we better do it fast.
According to some recent studies 9 year olds spend an average of three hours a day being vigorously active. Fifteen year olds spend an average of 49 minutes during the week and 35 minutes on the weekend being active. Only 31% of 15 year olds exercised one full hour on weekdays and 17% did that one hour on weekends - how dismal. Boys were more active than girls by about 18 minutes during the week and 13 minutes on the weekends (aren't the girls running to buy shoes???)
What's a parent to do? Well first of all look at the example you are setting - are you exercising on a regular basis? Are you offering to walk-bike-hike with your kids on weekends or after school? Can you put up a hoop by your home or use park facilities and shoot hoops with the kids? If your neighborhood is dangerous - what about exercise DVDs like Zumba and other dance aerobics? What about a plain old jump rope or breaking out skates? Parents need to step up to the plate and really model the behaviors they want and create team family exercise moments. There has to be a rule that for every hour of phone talk, phone text messaging, computer or video gaming time - your teen has to have an hour of physical activity time. Even a pet dog can encourage a child to go our and walk for half an hour because "Fido needs it."
Let's get these kids engaged in exercise by thinking out of the box and mirroring the habits we want and need from them!!
Published On: July 17, 2008