I was asked to give a talk at Colaiste Chraobh Abhainn last week, as part of their "Healthy Living" week.
This age group and trying to improve their inactivity levels is a passion of mine so I was delighted to be asked!
Here's why its my passion:
- Teenagers should be getting 1 hour of moderate intensity activity per day.
- At age 13 years, 73% of girls and 60% of boys DON'T achieve this.
- By 15 years, 87% of girls and 70% of boys DON'T achieve this.
Why does this matter?
1. Bone health - this generation of teenagers are TWICE as likely to break a bone than their parents were at the same age. This is down to two reasons - 1. they eat less dairy, and 2. they are less active.
We reach our maximum bone mass/strength by the age of 30. If we haven't had sufficient weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, running, playing sports etc) and adequate calcium and vitamin D, then we have a lower bone mass for life. This means lifelong higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
2. It manages their weight.
3. Helps their mental health.
4. Gives them better fitness, strength, flexibility and balance, all traits we need to enjoy our daily lives.
5. It lays the foundation for reducing lifelong risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Still not convinced? Studies have also proven that those who meet their daily exercise target are twice as likely to succeed academically. Exercise boosts brain power.
THE MORE THEY BURN, THE MORE THEY LEARN!
How to do it:
1. Teenagers generally stick at something if their friends are doing it and they enjoy it. Joining a team/club/dance group are all great ways of getting exercise in.
2. If your teenager is inactive, get them to start small and gradually build up. Walking is a great place to get started - every 2nd day for 20 mins and gradually build from there.
3. To avoid getting injured, make sure they start small and build gradually. Make sure they are in supportive footwear that aren't worn out.
4. Anything is better than nothing - if the thought of an hour a day is overwhelming, introduce small changes - it all counts! Walking from the bus/walking or cycling to school, getting out at the weekend for exercise - every bit helps, even if the 1 hour target a day isn't hit.
We also covered growth spurts and injuries you can get from them. I've talked about this before, you can read more here https://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/blog/growing-pains-0
Another common question is strength training - contrary to previous opinion, there are no proven detrimental effects of strength training in teenagers. Once it is well taught, technique is good and it is again built up gradually, it is actually a good thing!
As for posture - movement is better than any posture. For students who are studying alot, get them to change position/move desks/get up and walk around the room regularly. And no studying in bed!!