If your teen is feeling unmotivated to get active during the COVID-19 blues, you’re not alone. With no clear end date of this pandemic in sight and many schools resuming online for the semester, a lot of teens are not as invested in their physical wellbeing. As parents, when should you step in, and how should you encourage your teen to be more active?
The Importance of Being Active
According to the CDC, only 1 in 5 high school students meet the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity. Due to covid, less teens are being active. They spend time in front of their laptops for online school, then many resort to their phones or the TV to take a break from work. Without mandatory P.E classes or sports, most teens are not moving around enough during the day. Studies show that physical activities are crucial to other aspects like sleep quality, performance in everyday activities, and can help lower risk of obesity.
Steps To Talk About Being More Active With Your Teens
1. Frame the conversation in terms of negotiables and non-negotiable
You could start by saying, “I know this quarantine has been hard but I see you doing your best to show up for online classes. I’m just concerned that you’re not getting enough movement in your day. Whether it’s yoga or just getting outside once in a while, the non-negotiable is being physically active. The negotiable is how you do it.”
Let your teen know that you sympathize with the fact that these are emotionally trying times and explain your concern as a parent. If they see your concern as overbearing and retaliate with something such as, “Why are you always on my case? Why can’t I just spend my time how I want to spend my time?” In that scenario, consider the following steps.
2. Reaffirm your role as a parent
“How you spend your time is your business. However, it’s your job to use that time to take care of yourself. It is my job to notice when you’re not taking care of yourself. I would not be doing my job as a parent if I said nothing while you weren’t taking care of yourself.”
This allows you to let your teen know the intention behind your words and that you have their best interest at heart. It also allows your teen to develop a sense of agency over their time and lets them know that you’re not trying to micromanage them. Instead, help them know that you are an important nudger and you notice if they’re falling off track.
3. Set the deal
Make the terms of your agreement clear. “If you’re taking care of your own physical health, I will stay out of your business. I need to see you are taking care of your physical needs, which includes moving, sleeping, and eating well.” Bottom line is, their time is theirs to spend, but they have to be taking care of themselves by being active in some way.
At-home activities to do to stay active
Limited free-space and minimal equipment may be a reason why your teen is less willing to be active at home. However, research shows that any type of movement for just 30 minutes per day can help mitigate the effects of sitting most of the day.
Here are a few simple ways you and your teens can squeeze some exercise in:
Youtube has plenty of at-home workouts that you can follow along for free at home. Here are a few of our favorites.
If jumping into full body workouts immediately is too intense, suggest something as simple as 10 minutes of stretching in the morning, doing jumping jacks together before lunch, or push-ups before a snack.
Turn your cardio dance workouts into a dance party at home. Here are some of our favorites.
Make a game night more active with exercise based video games like ____.
Don’t have a gaming console at home? Phone games such as “Zombie” is a running game that can help you and your teen jog through an apocalypse.
Need something a bit more zen? Check out Core Power Yoga’s evening stretch series.
Many of these activities can be done together as a family. The more you join in on getting active together, the less of a chore and more of a family norm it’ll feel like to your teen - plus, it can be a great way to bond. Being active doesn’t have to feel like a chore, it can be short and simple, and even fun. Not sure how to start the conversation about getting more physical exercise with your teen? Chat with a Cherish Coach to plan a personalized strategy to help your teen get more active.