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August 17, 2023

10 Ways Teens Benefit From Exercise

In our bustling world, where screens and sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, physical exercise often takes a backseat, especially among teenagers. However, as parents, we all share the same desire to see our teenagers grow into happy, healthy, and thriving individuals as they transition into adulthood.

It’s not uncommon for teenagers to prioritize digital pursuits over physical activity. With smartphones, social media, and online gaming competing for their attention, exercise often gets relegated to the background. This shift has led to a significant decline in the overall fitness levels of our youth, raising concerns about their long-term health. As parents, our challenge is to recognize this trend and counteract it. We can do this by educating ourselves about the benefits of exercise for teens, thereby empowering us to guide our children toward healthier habits.

How Much Exercise Do Teens Need?

The American Heart Association recommends that teenagers engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. This should ideally include a mix of aerobic exercises, like running or swimming, and strength-training exercises, like weight lifting or yoga, several times a week.

But what does moderate-to-vigorous activity look like? Essentially, this means activities that get your teen’s heart pumping faster and cause them to break a sweat. It doesn’t have to be a formal workout. Anything from a fast-paced walk with the dog to a high-energy dance session can count towards this daily goal. The aim is to create a balanced exercise regimen that keeps them engaged and motivated.

What Exercise is Necessary for Teens?

Teenagers should engage in a variety of physical activities that are appropriate for their age, enjoyable, and offer variety. This could range from organized sports, like soccer or basketball, to everyday activities, like brisk walking or cycling. The key is to keep it fun and exciting so that exercise becomes a natural and enjoyable part of their daily routine. For more information and inspiration, check out our Parent’s Guide to Fitness.

While structured activities like team sports can offer a great physical workout, they’re not the only option. Unstructured activities, like going for a hike, jumping on a trampoline, or dancing to their favorite music, can also provide substantial benefits. The idea is to find activities that your teen enjoys and feels comfortable doing, which can increase their likelihood of sticking with it. And remember, variety is not just the spice of life—it’s also the spice of a good fitness routine.

How Teenagers Benefit from Exercising

Physical Health

The physical benefits of exercise are often the most readily noticeable. Exercise burns calories, promotes lean muscle development, and helps maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). In addition, engaging in weight-bearing activities such as walking or running can increase bone density, which is particularly important in the adolescent years when peak bone mass is acquired. Moreover, maintaining physical fitness can help prevent the onset of obesity-related health issues like Type 2 diabetes, which is increasingly common among teens.

Mental Health

While it’s true that physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy body, it’s equally vital for maintaining a healthy mind. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins — our body’s natural mood lifters — which can alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Our Parent’s Guide to Anxiety in Teens, Parent’s Guide to Depression and Anxiety, and Signs of Depression in Teens can all provide more insights and valuable conversation starters when it comes to these mental health challenges.

In addition, the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching a fitness goal can boost self-esteem and foster a positive self-image. It’s a direct, positive feedback loop: exercise improves mental health, which in turn motivates more exercise.

Academic Performance

Physical activity doesn’t just make us feel better — it can help us think better too. Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can boost cognitive function in areas like memory, attention span, and mental flexibility. This can translate to better academic performance and improved productivity. It seems that hitting the gym could be just as important for good grades as hitting the books!

Stress Reduction

Adolescence is a time of considerable stress for many, with pressures from school, peer relationships, and navigating the path to adulthood. Regular physical activity provides a healthy outlet for stress, offering a natural, constructive way to release tension and anxiety. The release of endorphins during exercise can induce a feeling of calm and well-being, helping teens navigate stressful situations more effectively.

Sleep Quality

Quality sleep is essential for a teen’s growth, development, and daily functioning. Studies have found that regular physical activity can contribute to better sleep by helping teens fall asleep faster and deepen their sleep. Better sleep can then lead to improved mood, better concentration, and higher academic performance — another way that exercise contributes to a teen’s overall well-being.

Disease Prevention

Regular exercise in adolescence can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of good health. By establishing exercise habits early in life, teens can reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases in adulthood, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Furthermore, studies have shown that people who were active as teens are more likely to remain active as adults, further reinforcing the importance of establishing these habits early on.


Achieving fitness goals or excelling in a sport can help boost self-esteem and body image among teenagers. Encouraging your teen to exercise can be a step toward fostering self-confidence. Our Parent’s Guide to Body Positivity provides more insights on fostering positive body image and self-confidence in your teen.

Exercise provides a platform where teens can accomplish tangible goals, whether it’s running a mile without stopping, lifting a certain weight, or mastering a new yoga pose. These accomplishments can significantly boost a teenager’s self-confidence. Moreover, regular physical activity can lead to improved body image as teens begin to feel stronger, healthier, and more in control of their bodies.

Social Skills

Team sports and group exercise activities offer a unique social environment where teens can bond over shared experiences and challenges. They provide opportunities to develop communication skills, learn to work as part of a team, and handle both victory and defeat gracefully. All of these experiences contribute to building robust social skills and enhancing interpersonal relationships.

Energy and Endurance

Physical activity stimulates the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues, leading to increased energy levels. This increase can help teens feel more alert and engaged, both at school and in their personal lives. Plus, building physical endurance can help teens stay active for longer periods without getting tired, which can enhance their overall quality of life.

Healthy Habits

A teenager’s habits can often carry over into adulthood. Therefore, fostering a love for exercise during these formative years can set a strong foundation for lifelong fitness. By teaching teens to see exercise as something enjoyable and rewarding, rather than a chore, we set them up for a lifetime of physical health and well-being. This love for physical activity is a gift they can carry with them throughout their lives, one that will continually contribute to their overall happiness and health.

In Conclusion

Helping your teenager cultivate an active lifestyle can be one of the most impactful things you do for their current and future well-being. In sparking conversations around fitness, we can illuminate its many benefits, encouraging them to appreciate and engage in regular exercise.

Regular physical activity is an essential part of teens’ overall well-being. Helping your teenager embrace an active lifestyle could be one of the best things you do for them, not just now, but for their future as well. Encouraging conversations around fitness and its multitude of benefits can help them understand and appreciate the importance of exercise.

However, we’re not here to have the last say. Rather, we aim to facilitate meaningful dialogue. To further grow your connection with your teen and facilitate open communication, our resources such as our Parent’s Guide to Teen Emotions, our post on How to Deal With a Teenager That Doesn’t Care, and our Parent’s Guide to Smartphones, among others, can provide invaluable guidance.

Lastly, for an in-depth exploration of other pivotal topics that impact your teen’s world, we invite you to discover our Parent Guides and weekly Culture Translator. These comprehensive resources aim to empower you to engage in confident conversations about pressing matters such as mental health, technology use, and bullying, among others. We’re here to support your journey of lifelong learning, growth, and faith.

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