More teens today are suffering from mental health challenges than ever before.
Pandemic stress has created a wide range of triggers for anxiety and depression, including isolation, trauma, and academic focus.
In 2019, the CDC reported that 36% of teens felt “permanent sadness and hopelessness.” Since then, the number has increased, now approaching 50%.
Exercise is vital to battling obesity and mental health problems regardless of age.
Jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing reduce anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem and cognitive functioning, a 2006 study reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Schools keep kids active during playground recess, physical education classes, and organized athletics in the upper grades.
Planet Fitness and its more than 2,200 locations in the U.S. and Canada introduced the High School Summer Pass in early May.
According to orthopedic physician Randon Hall, several types of exercise, including “formal” strength training, can benefit children’s mental and physical health.
He says, “Resistance training has a primary goal of gaining strength, but it also helps develop motor skills, speed, and power and develop functional movements applicable to all sports.”
However, Dr. Hall emphasizes that gym equipment is for adults, so proper supervision and safe usage are paramount.
He suggests using bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, free weights, and medicine balls instead of weight-lifting machines to get started on a gym-based workout program.
The benefits of yoga, stretching, mindfulness and meditation are well documented, even for children as young as 3 or 4.
Boutique fitness studios are also easing their restrictions on children attending classes.
Everyone agrees that keeping kids active – no matter how – is essential, especially during the summer months when kids are out of school and less exposed to organized sports and physical education.
AAP recommends that kids ages 3 to 5 get three total hours of physical activity daily, and ages 6 – 10 get 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity most days.
Liu says, “Kids should be active and engaged in various activities. Younger children are likely to engage and participate more fully if these activities are fun and they enjoy the experience.”