In a world where your teen’s free time is often spent staring at screens or plugged into headphones, it can be hard to find ways that motivate them to get up and exercise.
Your teen may claim they want to relax after a hard day of school or work, but ignoring physical exercise can lead to your teen down an unhealthy mental and physical path.
Lack of exercise will also result in your teen being more cranky and moody.
Motivating your teen to exercise, however, will bring nothing but positives to your teen’s overall wellbeing and build healthy life habits as they move into adult life.
Here, we present to you our 6 primary tips for helping your teen start a healthy exercise routine.
1. Foster Intrinsic Motivation
Your teen will always be more willing to do something if it’s what they’re passionate about, rather than a chore given to them by their parents. With this in mind, find a way to link exercise to something your teen is interested in, or a goal they’re striving to meet.
For example, your teen might be resolved to become more social and meet new people. It’s a simple step to help them see that by joining a sports team or a workout club, they’ll be surrounded by new people with a mutual interest.
In another scenario, your teen might be having a hard time sleeping. They feel groggy and bogged throughout the day, and they recognize it’s affecting their happiness.
Exercising regularly boosts energy levels while also making it easier to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. By pointing out how exercise can help your teen meet their own goals, you’re helping them find personal motivators for living a healthier lifestyle.
This technique may help your teen get into an exercise routine, even if they normally act defiantly toward your ideas.
2. Start Small
Change is often intimidating. Breaking large goals into small tasks, though, makes even the most insurmountable project seem manageable.
The same is true for exercising.
If your teen is worried about their physical capabilities, scared exercise will be “too hard,” or has a hard time starting new projects, suggest starting small.
Lowering the bar can be useful when beginning new routines, and it will get your teen warmed up to the idea of consistent exercise.
This might mean you set a time goal for your teen—10 minutes of exercise per day for one week. During this time, your teen could take a walk, run sprints, do push-ups, pull-ups, or any other form of exercise.
The point is to make it short and manageable. Then, once they’ve settled into the routine, add more time. It will build your teen’s stamina gradually, and eventually this may turn into full workout and exercise routines.
3. Be a Role Model
Monkey see, monkey do; not that you (or your teen) is a monkey, but the idea holds fast. Your teen is more likely to learn behaviors by watching their parents than being told how to live.
Due to this, your teen will be much more likely to exercise if they see you engaging in consistent exercise first. Your words will pack more of a punch if you can back them up, and besides, why should your teen have to exercise and be healthy if their parents don’t?
Ways to build on this approach are by sharing with your teen how good you feel after a run or other physical activity, and by making it clear that you force yourself to exercise even though you don’t want to.
By modeling your own good habits, your teen may feel more inspired to exercise, as well as less isolated in their fitness efforts.
4. Make it Fun!
Exercise might seem like a drag to your teen, but you can show them it’s not! There are heaps of fun ways to get exercise.
Hiking or trail running at a beautiful park or nature reserve, dancing to good music, swimming or surfing in the ocean, and playing sports are all forms of exercise that revolve around entertainment.
Finding a way to combine your teen’s hobbies with exercise is a great way to debunk the myth that exercise is a chore. Not only will they begin exercising, they’ll be excited about it!
5. Buddy Up
The added social factor of having a workout group or partner may be all your teen needs to feel motivated. Research shows that working out alone makes it harder to stay dedicated, makes the routine seem more difficult, and causes people not to push as hard.
If you can find other family members or some of your teen’s friends to work out with them, there’s a big chance of boosting your teen in the right direction.
You could even build social forms of exercise into your family routine.
Playing basketball a few nights a week with your family, or encouraging your teen to go skateboarding with their friends a couple of times a week are great ways to combine exercise and social life.
Another idea could be to buy your teen a bike and tell them they can see their friends more often, as long as they bike to see them. This added freedom will most likely make the idea appealing to your teen, causing them to exercise.
6. Be Consistent, Be Encouraging
Never forget to cheer for your teen! If exercise is something they find difficult, or something they’re self-conscious about, it’s incredibly important for you to be reassuring and encouraging of their efforts.
This recognition of their hard work will mean a lot to your teen and impact their attitude towards exercise going forward.
Keeping tabs on your teen’s progress and congratulating them when they hit certain benchmarks is a great way to show your support. If your teen is losing weight, building muscle, or looking more healthy, let them know!
It’s good for your teen to know their work is producing results, and might even inspire them to work harder. Your teen may be too harsh on themself, so it’s up to you to remind them of all the good work they’re doing.
We hope you’ve found these 6 tips helpful, and that you’ll use them to motivate and inspire your teen to find a healthy exercise routine.
All people are different, so there’s no telling which approach will be most effective for your teen, but we hope this advice helps set your teen on the right path to a happy, healthy life.