Exercise is important for all kids, because it boosts their overall health and wards off excess weight. But it holds added benefit for teens: According to a study in The Journal of Pediatrics, it improves their attention, which can help them do better in school.
The greatest payoff came from about an hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous activity, the study found. It seems that sustained exercise at a moderate level releases a specific protein that improves numerous brain functions. But overly vigorous activity could make teens too tired to focus on learning.
These findings suggest that exercise could also help children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as part of an overall care plan.
With many schools cutting back on physical education time during the school day, encourage your teen to take up a sport or activity that calls for a daily conditioning session, ensuring that they’ll be active not just on game days. Some kids thrive on team sports, such as soccer and lacrosse, while others do better with activities that allow them to develop more as individuals, such as track and tennis.
If you have home cardio equipment, like a treadmill or exercise bike, suggest that your teen use it while listening to music.
Remember to model the behavior you want your kids to follow, so let them see you working out and having fun doing it. You might even get your teen to agree to some family fitness time on weekends — and that’s something everyone will benefit from.
The American Council on Exercise has more ideas for getting kids excited about exercise.