The Importance of Physical Fitness as a Pre-Teen

Photo credit: Man vyi (own photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does your pre-teen seem more interested these days in watching movies or playing video games than engaging in fun fitness activities? If so, you’re not alone. The struggle is real for many families. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), roughly 62% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 do not engage in organized sports outside of school and 23% do not engage in any physical activity during their free time. The importance of physical fitness as a pre-teen cannot be understated. The key is to form healthy habits early on and find more creative ways to motivate this age group to move more and actually enjoy it. Some of the health benefits of regular physical activity include stronger muscles and bones, weight control, better sleep, less stress, more energy, and the ability to think more clearly. All the more reason to get the whole family moving!

Exercise Is No Longer a Priority

Today’s middle-aged adults may find themselves fighting a stubborn middle-age spread. Former high school track stars have evolved into busy parents who juggle careers and families and it’s hard to keep up the fitness levels we once had. When we were young, however, many of us were more active. We rode bikes to our friends’ houses and spent hours running around and playing outside. If we wanted to watch a movie, we had to actually get up and go to a theater or make a trip to the video rental store. If we wanted to play video games, many of us went to an arcade – often traveling by bike to get there.

Compare that to today’s kids, who have everything they need for hours of entertainment conveniently located in their family computer or smartphone. Even buying things can be done with the click of a mouse. As a result, today’s kids are inherently more sedentary than past generations. The exercise we got naturally – through bike rides to our friends’ houses and playing outside – are not a necessary part of their daily life. Exercise has to be planned, squeezed in. It’s an additional activity, not a natural part of the process.

Instill Healthy Habits

Establishing fitness habits at an early age can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits. A pre-teen is still malleable. The habits you instill now as a parent are habits that will continue with your child for a lifetime. Be a role model yourself by eating a balanced diet and exercising daily. Remember, your actions speak louder than words. Make time to be active as a family, too – go for a bike ride or a family hike. Buy gifts for your kids that will get them moving, such as a skateboard, a basketball, or a jump rope. Also, encourage your pre-teen to get involved in vigorous activities like running, swimming or playing sports like volleyball, tennis or soccer. Most importantly, limit the amount of time that your pre-teen spends playing computer games and watching TV to no more than an hour or two a day.

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Pre-teens are in the awkward years. Exercise can help boost confidence, release endorphins, alleviate tension, and reduce that antsy pent-up energy kids get at this age. Physical activity also enhances thinking skills and brain function by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, studies have shown that when pre-teens participate in organized sports and other fitness activities, they develop greater self-esteem and a more positive self-image than pre-teens who weren’t physically active.

Beachbody

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

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