As a mother of a teenager, I know first hand it can be a challenge to get students in this age group motivated to ‘workout’. Talking on the phone, texting via cell phone and spending time on the Internet are just an easier way to pass the time. But by not spending some time strength training and performing cardiovascular exercises, teenagers may be missing out on prime opportunities to improve muscle strength and endurance, develop overall body-toning, and maybe, just maybe, have some fun!
Fitness training for all ages, teens included, should include the following components of fitness: agility, balance, coordination, cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance. Some of the benefits of Teen Fitness Training include: A reduction in body fat, reduction of potential acute injuries (by increasing strength in tendons, joints and bone mass), reduction in the potential for long-term conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Teens following a fitness routine can expect increases in endurance and strength which can be applied to sports, an increased metabolic rate, (which helps the body to burn calories), and increased concentration and focus (which may serve a student in the classroom as well).
Teens can train both at home and in a facility. Simple exercises like push-ups, crunches or planks, jump roping and walking or running are convenient and relatively simple to fit in during the day. Finding a buddy to walk or run with is a great way to be both active and social! If attending a fitness center for the first time, teens should make an appointment with a trainer to learn the basics of the equipment available and the correct number of repetitions and the appropriate amount of weight. It is important to remember that even members who are using equipment and look comfortable, might not be. It’s best to ask for help from a trainer or someone who works in the gym for help. Using time efficiently in the gym is a sure way to see results and feel successful.
Many fitness facilities have recognized the need to bring the exercise option to pre-teens and teens at an early age to encourage good habits as the kids mature. Besides being able to work out in the gym with mom, dad or friends, there are numerous group fitness classes designed for this age group. Some group fitness choices for teens are Teen Hip Hop, Teen Yoga, Teen Kickboxing and Middle School fitness classes, which offer a rotating schedule of classes and instructors to keep interest levels up.
Resistance training can be performed using lots of different equipment, so any teenager can find safe enjoyable ways to build strength, and burn calories. Here are some tips for teens to consider when working in a group or with a trainer. Start with a basic program. Any activity is good and performing new resistance exercises will feel more comfortable with each session. After working at this level, slowly advance to a more challenging, but yet still appropriate exercises. Teens involved in sports might think about sport-specific training to emphasize technique, efficiency and safety.
Options to keep exercise routines interesting include a using a variety of machines, or exercises, increasing or decreasing the length of the sessions, and changing the frequency of work outs. Teens usually have a lot on their schedule (after school jobs, school, homework, lessons) and although exercise is clearly an important part of their busy week, teens should be reminded to always listen to their bodies and not to force a workout if they are feeling tired or weak. After starting and developing a fitness training routine, exercise will become second nature, and something they want to do, just like calling or texting friends.