How can I encourage my teen to exercise?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Regular exercise is healthy for anyone. In this video, Dr. Oz reveals his tried and true advice for getting a teen into the exercise game.

Encourage your teen to participate in an activity they enjoy. Whether at school or a club or sport outside of school, letting them chose the activity they enjoy is critical for consistent participation.

In agreement with the clip Dr. Oz shares, I believe leading by example is the best way to influence and encourage healthy change in others, including teens.  Our actions really do speak louder than words and have much greater impact. 


How can I encourage my teen to exercise? One of the most important things to do is, make it fun. If your teen is a girl, try sports, Power Yoga, Zumba, dance classes, teen boot camps or aerobic based body sculpting classes. If the teen is a boy, sports, boxing, martial arts, boot camp, or hiking. Try getting a personal trainer for him or her, a personal trainer can assess your child to see what level of fitness they're at. Together your teen and personal trainer/fitness expert can design a plan or routine that the teen will enjoy. One of the best ways to get your teen motivated to workout is, led by example. So get out and get moving.

As a personal trainer, you would think my kids would be superfit. Not quite!  In fact, my husband and I have had many head-scratching conversations trying to come up with ways to get our kids to spend less time with screens and more time moving. What we found was that parental nagging was not very effective. Usually the activity that sticks is the activity they initiate themselves. 

Here are a few examples:  When they were little, we enrolled them in just about every sports team we could find. They got most excited about the post-game snack. But, when our son asked to join the soccer team, he got into it and played for several years.

We have a family gym membership, and we've tried to put our kids through exercise routines. They hate it!  But, my son asked for a pogo stick for Christmas, and he worked on that until he could do over 1,000 consecutive jumps. Trust me, that's a workout! 

We've attempted family hikes and bike rides. I think their most-exercised muscles were in their eyes, as they rolled them at us. Not a hit. But, they like their independence, so they will ride their bikes to school, a friend's house, or the corner store for an ice cream cone. (Hey, it's a start!) 

Our daughter discovered the Dance Dance Revolution games at a friend's party, and she has played ever since. Last year she asked for a skateboard for Christmas. We thought her interest would wane by the time we took down the tree-lights. It turned out to be the first item she placed in her suitcase when she left for college. Who knew? 

Actually, just writing this is making me feel a little better about my kids' activity levels. They do move around, just not in ways that I've tried to direct. 18 years of child-raising has left me hesitant to give advice to another parent, since each kid is different. All I can say is keep trying, encouraging and offering opportunities. Most important, keep the relationship positive. You never know what will click, and it will probably be the last thing you expected!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.