Since schools first closed last year (and then opened, and then closed again…), parents have all been worried about their kids falling behind on their learning. And with so much focus on catching up lately, it’s been easy to forget that they’re behind on another pretty big thing too – exercise. Most adults can relate to this of course. Since we were first told to stay at home, with work and studying all confined to the 4 walls of your home, we’ve all become a bit less, shall we say, “athletic” than before.
For teens though, catching up on their fitness can have a positive knock-on effect on their emotional wellbeing and their ability to study well. Keep reading to find out why, and 6 free and fun ways for teens to get moving this Easter holiday.
For teens, getting less exercise during the pandemic isn’t just about fewer goals scored for the school football team (although those are missed too). A teen who’s enjoying enough exercise is more likely to have more energy, study better and feel happier day-to-day. Here are just a few of the ways that staying active helps them live life to the max.
Exercise helps teens burn off more energy and get a better night’s sleep as a result. And with a full 8 hours under their belt, they’ll be much more ready to face whatever the day holds.
It’s been found that exercise also improves brain function, making teens more able to focus on the task at hand – whether in class, in a tutorial or revising at home. So whether they’ve got learning gaps they need to fill in, or grades they want to improve on, getting active can be key.
Another by-product of improved brain function caused by exercise is a better memory. So whether they’re learning new material or going over old topics ahead of a test, improving their ability to store information can lead to a better understanding of their subjects, and ultimately better grades.
Because exercise boosts your circulation, it lifts your energy levels as a result. More energy makes it easier for teens to get through the school day and have enough fuel left to do their homework (and do some gaming) when they get home.
Last but definitely not least, exercise is a key ingredient for teens in staying happy. As well as the endorphin rush straight after exercise, it’s been found that movement also fires up another system in the body that boosts mood throughout the day. This can help teens find motivation to catch up on learning gaps, and it makes them more likely to believe in themselves as they face whatever challenges come next.
Even with all these great reasons to get moving though, we know that not everyone enjoys P.E. or traditional workouts. Here are 5 fun and either free or cheap ways for teens to catch up on exercise – no drills, so squats and no P.E. kits required.
It’s become a great British pastime since the pandemic started, but walking can be a bit, well, boring, especially for teens. Now that restrictions have eased a bit though, a walk with friends can be a great way for your child to get their legs moving and reconnect with pals who they might not have seen for a while. They’ll be so busy catching up on who said what about who that they won’t notice they’ve done 10,000 steps. It’s also a great way to spend 1-1 time with your child – especially if you have more than one at home at the moment. Quality time like this with a parent can be a chance for them to talk about whatever’s on their mind – without any siblings eavesdropping.
Whether it’s for TikTok or for no audience at all, dancing is one of the most fun ways to exercise without realising it. There are lots of dance workouts on YouTube that your teen can follow if they like – or they can just stick the volume up on their favourite song and freestyle like no-one’s watching.
With the weather looking up right now, getting outside into the park, garden, balcony, terrace, whatever you’ve got – is an immediate mood-booster. A hula hoop is a timeless classic, and if you’ve got one lying around, bring it out and see who can set the highest record. It’s a pretty good abs workout too, if you’re interested!
Spring is springing, and now is a great time to get planting, weeding and pruning. Some teens might see gardening as something that just mum or dad do, but for those environmentally concerned teens, it’s a nice way to connect with nature (if you’ve got room, you could even plan an oxygen-giving tree). Even if you’ve got a balcony or even just a windowsill, you can still stock up on pots and get planting (for the keen cooks, planting a mini herb garden can even add some extra flavour to their recipes for the months to come).
Here’s a fun way to put your teen to work – and help them get moving at the same time. Especially for any practically-minded teens out there (or for the impractical ones who need a bit of practice), teaching them how to mount a shelf, hang a picture or even paint a room (with supervision, of course) can be a great way for them to stay active and keep their focus on the task at hand.
We hope that’s helpful! You might even grab one of these tips to get active post-lockdown yourself – whether the kids want to dance along with you or not is another matter.
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