A survey conducted in Barbados in 2012 involving 1,600 secondary school students, revealed that 31.9 per cent of students aged 13 to 15 were overweight, and 14.4 per cent obese. It was also pointed out that some of the consequences of overweight and obesity include breathing difficulties, hypertension, early signs of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and almost all Non communicable dieseases.
While poor diets account for much of this, the lack of an adequate amount of physical activity every day contributes tremendously to the problem.
Fitness in the Teen Years
It's recommended that teens get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day, but in the same report mentioned above, it was noted that many children do no form of physical activity and physical education classes at school are even skipped by some children.
Although many children get involved in at least one organised sport early in their childhood, many seem to drop out when they get become teenagers and this is for varying reasons. Academic pressure, having to attend extra lessons during the week and on weekends makes it impossible for some chidren to do any form of activity after school. Peer pressure to party or to indulge in long hours on the various eletronic devices is also a reason why some children stay away from physical activities. It is also known that girls in particular do not like the idea of being sweaty as they try to keep a certain appearance.
It is however felt, that given the opportunity and encouragement and helping teens to understand that being active is for their personal good health many more will get involved in active sports.
Encourage your teen to choose a sport that he or she likes and support them in it. It can be swimming, track and field, cricket, dancing, basketball, volleyball, football, squash, badminton, tennis, netball or even golf, but it should be fun.
You can also encourage your teen to do a lot more walking. You can take family walks in the evenings and those living close enough to schools should even think about walking to school.
Parents need to help teens fight the habit of staying sedentary on eletronic devices for long hours every day. Limit the time that they are allowed to watch television, surf the net and play on line games.
Once they get started, many teens enjoy the feelings of well-being, reduced stress, and increased strength and energy they get from exercise. As a result, some begin to exercise regularly without nudging from a parent.
Some teens might feel more comfortable doing home exercise videos, which are fine. but they shouldn't replace active play and participation in sports. Our section on extracurricular activities lists a number of sports and clubs which the team can get involved with.
Parents should also insist that their teen participates in physical education at school and you should desist from excusing your teen from such.
The benefits of exercise cannot be understated and they include releasing stress from academic pressure, good health and reduce risk of many of the conditions mentioned above.