In a generation where technology reigns supreme, teens and young adults have never been more inactive. However, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. There are ways to make it fun and engaging. Having fun and enjoying the process is crucial for understanding healthy habits. This blog highlights the benefits and expert recommendations for teens and young adults to stay healthy.
Benefits of Physical Activity for Teens and Young Adults
Physical activity is essential for health and wellbeing for everyone, however, it is uniquely beneficial for teens and young adults as it set the precedence for being active in later years.
Other benefits include:
• Reduced the risk of obesity and chronic conditions (e.g. heart disease, cancer, etc.)
• Promotes socialisation
• Promotes spending time with family and friends
• Helps to lower anxiety and stress
• Enhances physical fitness
How much exercise should teens and young adults be getting?
Due to the popularity of technology and social media, teens and young adults are moving less. Only 27%  of teens and young adults are meeting the expected physical exercise recommendations. The following evidence-based recommendations are taken from reputable sources, such as the Australian Government and the American College of Sports Medicine.
Physical Activity Guidelines
The ideal amount of exercise will be different for each individual depending on their circumstances. However, the general recommendation for teens and young adults is around 60 minutes per day. A combination of moderate and vigorous activities should be encouraged within these daily totals.
Moderate activity this described as any movements that lead to fast breathing, some sweating and an increased heart rate. Vigorous activities require more effort, which leads to heavier breathing, faster heart rates and more profuse sweating.
Given the lifestyles of teens and young adults, these 60 minutes do not need to be structured and organised. Instead, they can be dispersed throughout the day. For example, modifying day-to-day activities, such as walking to school rather than being driven. Additionally, short bursts of exercise can be incorporated throughout the day.
Reducing Sedentary Behaviour
Even if physical guidelines are met, the benefits of moving do not reverse the drawbacks of being sedentary. Teens and young adults are becoming too inactive – also known as sedentary behaviour. Examples of sedentary behaviour include playing video games, watching television and being on the phone.
These poor habits are linked to lower physical fitness and becoming overweight. While exercising 60 minutes a day is hugely beneficial, decreasing sedentary behaviour is equally important. To stay healthy, experts recommend reducing sedentary activities to a maximum of 2 hours a day. [1, 2]
What types of exercise are appropriate for teens and young adults?
As noted earlier, a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity exercises should be encouraged. Additionally, there are two main types of exercises that are beneficial for overall physical well being. These are aerobic and strengthening activities.
Aerobic exercises are physical activities that require constant movement and get the heart pumping. They are essential for maintaining cardiovascular and heart health.
Strengthening exercises helps strengthen the muscles and bones. These activities require the muscles to push and pull against body weight or external loads.
However, the best type of exercise is those that are performed. Teens and young adults are only just starting to understand the value of being healthy. Providing access to activities that are enjoyable for the individual should be the number one goal. Being engaged and having fun motivates lifelong physical activity and wellbeing.
Examples of aerobic and strengthening exercises of various intensities are noted in the table below. Some of these activities will have overlapping characteristics between the types and intensities of exercise.
|Moderate Intensity||Vigorous Intensity|
|Aerobic exercises||Walking, cycling on flat ground, skateboarding, playground activities, riding a scooter||Jogging, running, skipping, dancing, swimming|
|Strengthening exercises||Football, basketball, martial arts, rugby, tennis, badminton||Callisthenics, weight training, gymnastics, rock climbing, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups|
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