Running, cycling, swimming, walking, sports and the list goes on for ways teenagers are active each day. While the form of exercise enjoyed may differ, all teenagers benefit from including some form of physical activity in their lives. With all the mental, emotional and physical benefits, teenagers may wonder, is it bad for a teenager to workout every day?
Working out every single day may harm a teenager’s health if not done appropriately. A workout often consists of a period of strenuous activity meant to push and stretch the body. In order for teenagers to fully utilize the workout, they will want to incorporate recovery days into the week. Teens will also want to avoid working the same muscles on back to back days.
That being said, health authorities recommend at least sixty minutes of physical activity daily. Physical activity can include a strenuous workout, but on recovery days, can also include walking, outdoor chores or participating in hobbies such as dancing or skateboarding.
The following article provides additional detail regarding healthy physical activity for teenagers. Keep reading to find out more.
Physical Activity Recommendations For Teenagers
The CDC recommends teenagers engage in sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. During the week, teenagers should include mostly aerobic activities with bone and muscle strengthening activities for at least three of those days. Many physical activities involve more than one group. For example, jumping rope is aerobic, and strengthens both muscle and bones.
This physical activity does not need to happen in one full sixty minute session. In fact, movement throughout the day may provide additional benefit over just one session of physical activity.
Also, along with typical exercises such as jogging and biking this physical activity can include walking a dog, martial arts, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, hiking, rollerblading and skateboarding among many other enjoyable hobbies and pastimes.
Aerobic – activities that involve using the larger muscles consistently for a longer time. These activities strengthen the heart. Examples include running, walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and jumping.
Bone strengthening – activities that strengthen bone by placing a force against the bone. Examples include running, jumping, weight lifting and sports.
Muscle strengthening – activities that strengthen muscle by overloading them more than normal. Examples include climbing, weight lifting, jumping, push ups, pull ups and jungle gym activities.
The best form of activity is the one a teenager enjoys. Try a variety of physical activities and find what works best. Look to limit screen time and be active instead. Following these recommendations brings a host of benefits to adolescents.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity is often only associated with weight loss. However, the emphasis placed on encouraging teens to stay active comes more from all the other associated benefits, not weight loss. In fact, weight loss is rarely recommended for adolescents, as it can harm growth and development.
The following list outlines the many benefits derived from consistent physical activity.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases:
- Heart disease
- Type two diabetes
- Improved overall health
- Increased heart health
- Higher bone density
- Stronger muscles
- Improved cognition
- Better academic performance
- Improved memory
- Decreased risk of depression
- Increased self confidence
Focusing on the overall feelings of health, energy and self-confidence obtained from physical activity can be helpful for motivation. Look to increase enjoyable movement in the day rather than to exercise as a punishment in order to look a certain way.
Can A Teenager Exercise Too Much?
Exercise does a lot of good for the body; yet as with most things in life, there does come a point where a teenager can exercise too much. Excessive exercise can harm mental, emotional and physical health.
The amount of exercise that is detrimental to a teenager’s health often depends on a variety of factors and differs for each individual. Generally exercising for several hours or multiple times per day is too much.
Other indicators of too much exercise include:
- Overuse injuries
- Frequently unwell
- Loss of menstruation in females
- Decreased desire to participate in hobbies
- Rigid perspective about exercise
- Unable to fully recover
- Constantly tired
Sixty minutes per day allows a teenager to access benefits without causing burnout. Individuals who participate in longer and more frequent exercise and should incorporate rest days into the week. Balance and moderation are an important aspect of physical activity in teenagers.
Tips For Healthy Exercise As A Teenager
As a registered dietitian, I often recommend balance, variety and moderation for a healthy diet. These same principles hold true for physical activity.
In regards to balance, teenagers should ensure that exercise time does not push out other aspects of the life. If physical activity seems to get in the way of relationships with friends or family and limits time for school, work or sleep, there may be a need to readjust. An unbalanced relationship with physical activity will cause burnout and other negative health effects.
Varying the type of physical activity not only increases enjoyment and satisfaction, but will also help prevent injuries and make the body stronger. Weight lifting, running, etc. every single day does not give body time to recover. Recovery is when the body repairs and builds to improve health and performance.
Including a variety of activities also reduces the risk of overuse injuries and an imbalance in muscle strength. This variety will help a teen meet performance goals far better than focusing on just one type of activity.
As mentioned previously, even too much of a good thing, like physical activity can be harmful. Effective training comes with moderation, which means avoiding excessive or extreme exercise. Good exercise habits should leave a teen feeling better and more energized throughout the week.
There are some other important physical activity tips for adolescents to follow:
First, avoid powerlifting, especially without training. These explosive moves can cause injury when done incorrectly. When weightlifting, teenagers should seek counsel from trained professionals regarding the correct form.
Second, eat enough calories to meet energy needs. The high energy expenditure associated with teenage development and growth along with physical activity make eating enough critical to lasting health. Avoid participating in fad diets that promote restriction in any form.
Third, don’t forget about hydration. Dehydration can have serious consequences. Drink water consistently throughout the day and rehydrate fully after a workout. Urine should be a pale yellow when an individual is properly hydrated.
Fourth, recover. The body needs time to heal and build after exercise. While physical activity is important each day, follow up a hard training day with a day full of lighter activities. When a workout focuses on one muscle group, target a different muscle group the next day.
Fifth, make sleep a priority. Teenager should get 8-10 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep gives the body time to heal, fight inflammation, build muscle, strengthen the immune system and protect the brain.
Finally, try to make sure physical activity remains an enjoyable part of life. Reassess the type, duration and other habits surrounding physical activity if the exercise chosen feels like it is taking away, rather than adding to overall well-being.
What Should An Active Adolescent Eat?
A healthy active teenager should eat a balanced and varied meal pattern that avoids restrictive food rules. Teens should eat enough to meet energy needs. They consume nutrient full foods to provide the nutrition the body needs.
Fruits and vegetables
The nutrition provided by fruit and vegetables cannot be achieved through any other supplement or food group. Adolescents should at minimum eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, if not more. Meeting this recommendation promotes good health now and in later years.
Fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients assist with growth, development, energy, the immune system, healthy organs, skin, hair, nails and so much more.
Fruits and vegetables also provide inflammation fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. These food components help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Among many other healthful components, fruits and vegetables are also well known for their fiber content. Fiber is linked to better digestive health and prevention of chronic disease.
As the primary building block of the body, protein should be a part of most meals and snacks. Frequent protein intake benefits the body more than a large amount of protein all at once. The body can usually only utilize 15-30g protein every 3-4 hours.
Eating a variety of protein foods is key to accessing many of the health benefits associated with this food group. For example, sea food, nuts and seeds provide heart healthy fats, eggs contain brain boosting nutrients, legumes offer fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, and lean meat is a powerhouse for iron.
Grains often do not get the praise they deserve, especially whole grains. The body requires energy to function at even the most basic level. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, and grains are one of the best sources of carbohydrates.
Teens should eat at least half of their grains in the form of whole grains. Whole grains include a variety of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals not found in their refined grain counterparts.
Oatmeal, 100% whole grains breads, pastas and tortillas, quinoa and even popcorn all make the whole grain list.
Teens will find many bone strengthening nutrients in dairy products and should try to consume three servings daily. Dairy can be a good source of protein, calcium, B-vitamins and Vitamin D. Also, yogurt contains probiotics, which may promote a healthy gut.
Those who need to avoid dairy due to allergies, intolerances or dietary preference can still find these nutrients in other food sources. They may want to talk to a registered dietitian about possible supplementation if they are not meeting certain nutrient recommendations.
While not a food group, fat remains an essential part of a healthy diet. Dietary fats create a feeling of satiety, provide energy, increase nutrient absorption, promote healthy cell growth and protect body organs.
Heart healthy unsaturated fats should be eaten more often than saturated fats. These heart healthy fats are plant oils, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and fatty fish. Saturated fats are found in butter, coconut oil, lard, desserts and processed foods.
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