6 Ways to Motivate Your Teen to Exercise

#GuestPost by Andy Earle

Photo credits: unsplash.com

It can be hard to get your teen off the couch when they just want to relax after a day at school or at work. Whether your teen is fit or not, they are putting themselves at risk of poor mood and poor health if they do not exercise on a regular basis. If you want to motivate your teenager to start getting more exercise, try these 6 motivation techniques.

1. Introduce it Slowly

Our first tip is to not expect a lot of exercise at the beginning. Not a lot of teens are going to want to go from hanging out on their phones to jumping straight into an intense hour-long cardio session. Especially if they show patterns of defiance. Even if the exercise is easy, it might discourage your teen if you ask them to do a workout that sounds challenging, simply because they haven’t been moving their muscles in a long time.

In this case, we recommend starting with the bare minimum and increasing your work out time by 10 minutes every few days until you reach a whole hour of exercise. Day one might look like a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood. After increasing the duration gradually over a week or so, you might find your teen more willing to lift weights for thirty minutes, or go on a 45-minute hike instead.

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

2. Demonstrate Your Own Habits

Another way to motivate your teen is to model positive behavior. If your teen sees you working out on a regular basis, even when you don’t want to, they might be inspired to do the same. It wouldn’t feel fair to your teen if you did not have a good exercise pattern, yet challenged them to do better. By exercising and sharing your workouts with your teen, you might find opportunities to encourage them to get fit and feel more positive like you. This works especially well if you talk to your teen about the benefits you feel from working out and how you expect they might feel better too.

silhouette of two persons

3. Discover Something Fun

blue framed swimming goggles near pool at daytime

This next tip has to do with variety and helping your teen find an exercise that fits. Working out doesn’t just mean team sports or logging hours at the gym. A lot of teens don’t like the idea of playing a sport or having to travel to gym where everyone else seems to be more fit than they are. Instead, you could suggest going on nature excursions or perhaps sign them up for swimming or zumba classes. The goal here is to find an exercise that your teen thinks is fun and aligns with their interests so getting exercise feels more like a fun activity than a chore.

4. Make it Social

Teens are more likely to exercise if they aren’t doing it alone. Most people like having a work out buddy to keep them on track and to make their exercise time more social and enjoyable. Try coming up with an activity you can do as a family or with friends so your teen gets motivated by those around them. Some ideas we have are tossing the ball around with family at the park, going skateboarding with a group of friends, or getting a group together to ride bikes to your teen’s favorite place in town. Studies show that we can work harder when we have others working out with us, so it could help their performance and encourage them to get more out of an exercise.

5. Tap into Their Goals

One of the best ways to motivate your teen is to help them discover how exercise contributes to accomplishing a goal that they care about. For example, if your teen suffers from insomnia or irregular sleep pattern, you could emphasize how getting a consistent workout routine would help in resetting their circadian rhythm to perfection.

If they constantly struggle from energy-deprivation during the day, you could let them know how regular exercise actually boosts energy during the day instead of sapping it. If your teen has the goal of making new friends, try showing them how joining a sports team could help them bond with more people and develop relationships. Whatever your teen wants to accomplish, you might want to see if exercise can help them achieve it.

6. Cheer Them On

A great way to encourage your teen to be more active is to cheer them on when they start working out. You can track their progress and congratulate them when they hit major benchmarks.

Acknowledge their efforts (especially in public) from the bottom of your heart. When they seem to give up, let your teen know (in private) how far they have progressed from scratch and appreciate their persistence. This would motivate them to stick to the exercise routine further.

black and yellow TRX resistance band

You could even use some of these inspirational quotes to spark things up. Your teen will be more excited about working out with you cheering on their improvement.

silhouette of person jumping

Feeling Motivated?

We hope these tips get you all fired up about encouraging your teen to get more exercise everyday. Try them out and see what works best to get your teen off their phone and into the athletic gear.

Good luck 🙂

About the Author:

Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.

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