Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Inside/Out Strong. 267-341-7216. mindbodylmft@gmail.com

Teens and Exercise

on October 14, 2013

On Tuesday of this past week, I had a tremendous opportunity through my personal training work with CoreFitness to teach a fun fitness bootcamp to the students of New Foundations Charter School. First of all, major applause to the youth who participated with great enthusiasm and smiles on their faces (despite having to withstand my sick love for burpees). I was happy we had such a great turn-out of 8-10 kids, as in the past I know the school (and other school programs) have found challenges in getting teens to enjoy exercise.

It got me thinking about the epidemic we face in our country ever day: Regarding teens, since when did fitness became lame, weird, something only skinny people do, OR something only supermodels can obtain… or, best yet, a non-preferred activity? Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of great high school athletic programs out there that promote healthy competition, staying in shape, eating right, etc…. but what about the average high schooler who does not land themselves on a sports team?

Well, here are some jarring facts about that:*
  • Nearly half of American youths aged 12-21 years are not vigorously active on a regular basis. About 14% percent of young people report no recent physical activity.
  • Participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age or grade in school increases.
  • Only 19% percent of all high school students are physically active for 20 minutes or more, five days a week, in physical education classes.

Why? All types of reasons… PE/Health classes are loosing funding and/or priority, stress and emotional issues among teens are on the rise (creating a lack of energy to participate in physical activity), AND “screen time”, as they call it (video games, computer time, tinkering around on an I-Pad), is becoming increasingly more ‘awesome’ than, say, a walk in the park. I feel like when I was in middle/high school… all I did was walk around (seriously, high school friends… do you remember how much aimless walking around we did? Let alone the miles into the woods we would hike for “social gatherings” (sorry mom & dad)).

The facts & figures above demonstrateĀ why I find it so important to help bring a joy of fitness, heck, MOVEMENT to teenagers. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The majority of teens out there today are quickly prescribed psychotropic medication when they show even the slightest signs of anxiety, depression, or mood disorders (heaven forbid we have a moody teenager out there!)… and what do those medications do? Increase “happy hormones” like dopamine and serotonin in the brain to (supposedly) make children feel better. But – wait Caitlin, doesn’t exercise make us happy, too?! Well, YEAH!! Which is why I find such importance in helping youth find a holistic, natural way to find happiness. Who knew that a kickboxing class could make the grumpies go away? (Yes, I called it the grumpies. No, I would not tell a teenager her/she has “the grumpies”… unless I wanted major eye rolling or “psshaaaas” coming my way).

I digress… Parents, help your children recognize the importance of movement. I’m not talking a 60 minute vigorous spin class or making them run 5Ks every night before dinner. But, please, get them moving. Family walks together. Group classes at your local Y/gym. Encouraging them to get OUTSIDE the house with friends! (No mischief, of course). Heck, help them train for a 5K (talk about wonders for confidence!).

The reason I started “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” was because I saw an incredible need for a new, healthy way to tackle the stress and emotional issues youth (and adults!) face. I also recognized that exercise carries a stigma with it. and the majority of children/teens feel awkward, frustrated, or insecure when they attempt it. My goal is to provide an experience void of that stigma, and help spread the gospel of healthy living that I live by every day.

I can’t wait to continue my classes with New Foundations Charter School, and I’m hopeful those teens will continue to have an awesome experience with each class.

Until next time!

*statistics provided by: medicine.net

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