Move Your

Does your teen move in high gear on a "24/7" schedule—school to after-school activities and perhaps to a job? Do homework, time with friends, and hours on the phone or the Internet fit in between? Remember: A busy schedule may not be an active lifestyle!

Moving more promotes benefits that are dear to teenage hearts: looking good, being in shape, being strong, feeling energetic, being self-confident, doing well in school, and having a good outlook on life.

There's more. Being active now helps reduce the risk for some chronic health problems later, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis—especially if teens make active living a lifelong habit.

The physical activity guideline for teens? For adolescents, the Dietary Guidelines advise: Engage in at least sixty minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Research shows that physical activity drops dramatically when kids hit the teen years. Kids and parents: use the Activity Pyramid here to get a good balance of activities that stretch, strengthen, and give your heart a workout. Kids of every ability, shape, and size benefit with regular physical activity. For more about guidelines and benefits ofphysical activity, see "Get Physical!" in chapter 2.

Kids on the Move: Overcoming the Barriers

Why are more and more teenagers less and less active? Perhaps it's the family pattern they "inherited." But for every reason teens give, there's an easy, often fun solution. Offer these tips as starters to teens:

Reason: "I'd rather watch TV" In fact, about 50

percent of children and youth watch more than three hours of television a day!

Solution: Get some self-discipline: limit your TV time to fit in other types of fun. Or multitask: watch TV while you do something active, perhaps lift weights, do push-ups or sit-ups, or dance in front of the TV (Kids: it's not weird to move more.)

Reason: "It's too far to walk there." So kids ride in or drive cars to school, the store, friends' homes, the library, or work.

Solution: Skip the school bus or car if you can. Walk or use a bike, scooter, or in-line skates. (Remember a helmet and perhaps knee pads, for safety.)

Reason: "I'd rather play video games or get on the computer."

Solution: Mental exercise is great, but—take an active break from sitting. It's good for your eyes and your head. In fact, your brain's synapses may work faster with some physical activity!

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