Everyone knows the importance of regular exercise. Yet, not everyone is willing to put in the time and effort to become physically active. In fact, many people would become dissuaded after thinking about the amount of energy they will have to invest in working out. This rings especially true for teenagers, who, more often than not, would prefer to lounge casually on the couch and scroll mindlessly through their smartphones.
Do you wish that your teen would be more active? It may seem like a fool’s errand, but there are ways about it. The key is to find fun, safe, and simple exercises for your teen. The most important thing is for them to take that first step – and to build the habit of working out. In this article, we give you a rundown of some of the best exercises teens can do at home.
7 Safe and Easy Exercises for Teenage Girls and Boys
Today, overweight and obesity among the youth are dire public health concerns in Canada. According to recent data from Statistics Canada, 24.5% of adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years are either overweight or obese. This translates to roughly 456,900 young Canadians. This figure is alarming. After all, being overweight and obese could increase the likelihood of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
This is why parents should instill and promote good dietary and lifestyle habits early in life – including encouraging their teens to become more physically active. It is important to get the four major types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Each type offers different benefits and engages various parts of the body.
Experts advise teenage girls and boys to perform at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, the majority of which is dedicated to aerobic or cardio exercises. Again, make sure not to neglect other areas, allotting a few minutes to work on strength, balance, and flexibility.
At the very least, teenage girls and boys should target at least 30 minutes of cardio workout thrice per week. Eventually, they can increase the amount of time and frequency of the exercise per week.
We explore each exercise category below and list down some activities that are suitable for your teen. Rest assured that none of these require any expensive equipment. All that is needed are some comfy workout clothes and, in some cases, a good old yoga mat.
Endurance Training For Teenagers
Endurance training refers to activities that get the heart pumping, thereby increasing both the breathing and heart rate. Also referred to as “aerobic” or “cardio” exercises, they are meant to keep your teen fit and healthy. More specifically, this type of body workout can promote cardiovascular health and lower anxiety and depression, alongside a host of other health benefits. As a bonus, they are an excellent supplement to weight loss programs.
During endurance training, teenagers will essentially be using large muscle groups for prolonged periods. Some popular aerobic exercises include brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming. As you may have noticed, these are all typically done outdoors (not unless you have indoor gym equipment). Fortunately, there are alternatives – ones that can easily be performed in the comfort of the home. We explore some of them below.
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Marching or Walking in Place
Marching in place is simple and effective, making it well-suited for beginners. It can serve as a single cardio activity or a warm-up exercise. If your teen is up for some challenge, they can increase their speed or lift their knees a little higher. Eventually, they can transition to jogging in place instead.
Is your teen into dancing? If so, you will be glad to know that this activity counts as a cardio exercise. All that they need to do is blast on their favourite upbeat songs, dance along with the music, and have the time of their lives. To increase the intensity, they will simply have to move faster.
Jumping jacks are a crowd-favourite aerobic activity – and unsurprisingly so. After all, they are straightforward and can be performed practically anywhere. They also do an excellent job of elevating the heart rate. To reduce the intensity, it is just a matter of jumping higher or faster.
Here’s how to do jumping jacks:
- Stand upright, keeping the arms down at the sides.
- Bend the knees ever so slightly, then jump into the air with the feet hip-width apart. While doing this, raise the arms to the sides and over the head.
- Go back to the starting position.
- Perform as many reps as desired.
Strength Training For Youth & Young Adults
Strength training – also referred to as “resistance training” or “weight training” – is designed to build muscle strength and endurance. This type of body workout can also strengthen the bones – all while helping teenage girls and boys burn more calories and increase their lean muscle mass. Other benefits include promoting better balance and lowering the likelihood of falls.
For beginners, it is best to start with bodyweight exercises, which, as the name suggests, rely on one’s own body weight to provide resistance against gravity. Popular options include squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, and side leg raises, among others. For teens, try to target three times per week of strength training exercises.
With the guidance of capable fitness instructors, teens can also lift weights. These will require some external resistance in the form of free weights or weight machines, among others. If you hire a personal trainer for your teen, they will be in charge of bringing the workout equipment, helping you save time and effort.
Related Article: Why Hire a Personal Trainer for Your Teenagers
Squats are a dynamic and highly effective strength training exercise, requiring multiple muscle groups in the upper and lower body. There are several types of squats that your teen could try out, but it is always a good idea to start with a basic squat, otherwise known as an “air squat.”
Here’s how to do squats:
- Ready the yoga mat.
- Bring the feet a bit wider than hip-width apart.
- Keep the chest up and slowly lower the hips into a sitting position.
- Keep squatting until the thighs are parallel or nearly parallel to the ground.
- Hold the position for a second. Make sure that the knees are over – but not beyond – the toes. Also, remember to keep the back straight – not rounded.
- Press into the heels and push the hips back up to the starting position.
- Do several reps.
A lunge is a popular resistance exercise that involves the muscles in the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Plus, it is perfectly suitable for teenage girls and boys who are still new to exercising. It can also be done virtually anywhere – whether inside or outside the home.
Lunges are a bit more difficult than squats because they will also challenge your teen’s balance and stability. After getting the hang of the basic lunge, your child can try out different lunge variations.
Here’s how to do lunges:
- Ready the yoga mat.
- Begin by standing upright.
- Step forward with one foot until the leg forms a 90-degree angle. Make sure that the lunging foot is not directly in front of the other foot. The rear knee should be parallel to the floor, while the front knee (or the lunging knee) should not go beyond the toes.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- Do as many repetitions as desired.
Balance & Stability Training For Teens
Balance exercise can make teens feel steadier on their feet, and help them become more coordinated in their movements. Doing so can prevent falls and injury. Even better, balance training can also help one perform daily activities better, such as walking up and down the stairs or reaching across the top shelf.
Popular activities that promote proper balance include yoga and tai chi. Aside from these, there are also a plethora of other simple, beginner-friendly exercises that can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home. Many lower-body strength exercises may also improve your teen’s balance.
Standing on One leg
Also known as the “single-leg stance,” “single-leg balance” or “one-legged stand,” this is perhaps one of the simplest and most widely known balance exercises. If it gets too easy or boring, do not worry. There are plenty of ways to spice it up, including using unstable surfaces or adding weights. Conversely, if they are having trouble, they can use a chair, kitchen counter, or some other stability aid.
Here’s how to do the single-leg balance exercise:
- Prepare the yoga mat.
- Start by standing with the feet hip-width apart, with the hands positioned on the hips. Ensure that the weight is distributed evenly on both legs.
- Slowly lift one leg off the ground.
- Hold the position for as long as possible, making sure to maintain good form and posture.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Do the entire exercise as needed.
Flexibility is yet another vital component of physical fitness and well-being. Essentially, this type of training can help the body be more flexible while encouraging a greater range of motion and improving balance. All of these can make it easier for your teen to move. Flexibility exercises typically involve stretching.
Yoga is well-recommended for teens who want to stay flexible and supple. As a bonus, yoga is also known to improve overall well-being and increase the quality of life. But if joining a yoga class is out of the question, there are several other flexibility exercises that your teen can do at home. Shoulder rolls are one of them.
Shoulder rolls are as simple and basic as can be. Sometimes referred to as “shoulder shrugs,” this type of stretching exercise primarily targets the trapezius muscles, which are located on the shoulders and upper back. Aside from improving shoulder flexibility, it can also release tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, as well as ease tension headaches.
Here’s how to do shoulder rolls:
- Stand upright, feet hip-width apart. Lift the chest and straighten the back.
- Let the arms hang loosely at the sides of the body.
- Begin by lifting the shoulders towards the ear. Afterwards, slowly roll the shoulders forward, down, back, and up. Notice the stretch across the upper back.
- Repeat several times.
- Reverse the movement. That is, make small backward movements with the shoulders, gently rolling them back, down, forward, and up.
- Do as many reps as needed.
- Once done, lower the arms to the sides and relax.
The Best Full-Body Workout Routine for Teenage Girls and Boys
As a parent, one of the best things you could do for your teen is promoting healthy lifestyle changes early on – and this includes engaging in regular exercise. A well-rounded full body workout program for teenage girls and boys should encompass the four most important exercises: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility training. Getting started with a simple workout routine can build the habit of regular exercising – a habit that can last a lifetime.
If you do not know a lot about fitness, it can be difficult to devise an exercise routine for your teen. And if they are unwilling to exercise, to begin with, then you will have to come up with fun and attractive ways to get them moving. This will entail a lot of research and watching hours and hours of workout videos. As if that is not enough, you will also have to ensure that they are performing the exercises correctly. Otherwise, they may run the risk of getting injuries.
For many parents, this can sound like a lot of work – and it is. And for some, it is not even recommended, especially for adolescents with certain medical conditions. Those who want to lose weight will also need a personalized workout routine – one that factors in their nutrition and dietary needs.
To make your life easier and for optimal results, the best way to go is to hire a personal trainer who is well-versed in dealing with teenagers. Here at First Class Personal Training, we offer a wide range of services for teenagers, be it in-home personal training or virtual training. Whether your kid wants to lose weight, build muscle, or engage in a cardio workout, we are here to help. Schedule a consultation with us today and find the best trainer for your child’s needs, preferences, fitness goals, and even personality.