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Help Your Teenager Get in Shape

Does your teen spend more time on the couch than on the court? Have you noticed your son or daughter getting a little soft around the middle? If so, then it's time for you to help your teenager get in shape.

Now is the time in your child's life to build strong bones and muscles. Regular exercise helps do that. It also helps reduce the risk of being overweight and developing serious health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

And being active and in shape can improve teenagers' self-esteem and help them feel better about themselves.

Get your teen moving

Any type of regular physical activity can improve your teen's fitness and health.

Joining a sports team and taking part in gym class are good ways to stay active.

But not all teens are into organized sports. If that's the case with your child, there are plenty of ways for him or her to keep active. Walking, swimming and riding a bike are all good forms of physical activity.

To help your teenager get started, encourage him or her with the following;

  • Make it fun. Teens are more likely to stay with an activity if it's enjoyable.
  • Take small steps. Little changes are the way to go. Urge your son or daughter to walk or ride a bike to school or take the stairs instead of an elevator.
  • Work the heart and lungs. Help your teen choose activities that raise the heart rate and make breathing harder.
  • Warm up. Remind your teen to warm up and stretch muscles before exercising.

Teens should try to get in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Teach healthy habits

Regular exercise is a good start to getting your teen in shape. But he or she also needs to make some healthy lifestyle choices. Encourage your teen to:

  • Limit TV, computer or video game time to no more than two hours a day.
  • Eat three healthy meals a day. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
  • Cut back on junk food, which is high in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar. Keep on hand healthy snacks—for example, carrot sticks, melon wedges, yogurt and sunflower seeds.
  • Get 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.

By taking steps to help your teen stay fit and active, you can help your son or daughter enjoy a healthy future.

Family Medicine can help

Family medicine doctors can help the entire family get fit. To schedule an appointment with a family medicine doctor at Rush Oak Park Hospital, call (708) 660-INFO (4636) or visit Find a Doctor.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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