Working out has never been my personal go-to for stress release or an endorphin rush. Learning how to incorporate a workout regime into my life has taken time and discipline, and is a practice that I wish I had started much earlier in life. As a teenager, I was only involved in sports for a short time, and as I got older, I abandoned that sport because I was more interested in parties, boys and being social. My teenage daughters have been involved in dance since they were young children, and have now worked their way up to dancing several hours every day. My oldest daughter had a bout with stress during the summer months, and she said she felt more pressures without the daily release of working out through dancing.
But how much is too much for our growing teens to endure? While many teens don’t exercise at all, the ones that do can have a tendency to push themselves, not knowing their limits. At varying times, both of my daughters have experienced injuries, simply from not being body aware and not listening to their bodies when needed. It has taken a long time for them to understand how to fuel their bodies with the right foods, proteins, and hydration, before and after a workout.
If you have teens that are working out on a regular basis, these are some of the things you can do to ensure that they stay on the right track:
– Teens who are into sports have games, practices and other sport-related activities happening on a regular basis. As a parent, ensure that they have enough to eat, healthy snacks and plenty of hydration to keep them going. It’s easy to think that our teens know enough to take care of themselves, but oftentimes, they don’t get enough fuel when they are extra active and can get dehydration headaches, or overall moody behaviour (sometimes called hangry—being so hungry that you are angry!)
–If there are activities that you can do together, all the better. If your teens are interested in spinning classes or yoga, try signing up for classes together. Ice skating together or hiking as a family can be a way for everyone in the family to participate in a group activity. My husband occasionally takes our girls with him to the gym, and it gives him a chance to go through appropriate exercises with them, teaching them proper form and shape. Like many new things they are learning, ensuring that they get proper instruction will help them create good habits going forward. I wish that I had some early encouragement when embarking on exercise as a teen—I remember pushing myself too hard in a step aerobics class, which turned me off from ever wanting to do it again.
–Teaching and encouraging our teens to exercise safely and monitoring their progress is just one more important task in parenting. Many teens, like myself, start something and go at it vigorously and end up with injuries or poor results. Creating reasonable lifelong habits that are not extreme, but safe and attainable, is part of our job as parents. Even if it seems admirable that our teens are working out, they most likely don’t have the knowledge to know whether or not they could be damaging themselves. If you are in doubt about their workout habits or concerned, check in on them, or find a trusted resource to help you. Their growing bodies are still forming, and a combination of strenuous and moderate activities will yield the best results.