How to get your teens moving: Hoodwink or clever parenting?

Think about how much you and your kids are active in relation to how much you sit.  Humans were not made to sit, they were made to move. Muscles need to be worked, blood needs to be circulated, lungs challenged and bones to bear weight.

Girl walking with dog in nature.

Being active is the single best prescription a doctor could give.  It guards against chronic disease, elevates mood and keeps the body operating like a finely tuned machine.

Let’s compare the body to a car.

If you don’t change its oil (eat well), take it for tune-ups (be active) and regularly check the tire pressure (see your doctor for health checks), its performance becomes inefficient (high blood pressure/heart rate/sugar and fat levels), sluggish (tired and trouble sleeping) and ends up in the shop (hospital).

We don’t need to join a gym, a team or get a personal trainer.  All we have to do is move more.

Here’s how I trick my teenage daughter and stepson into moving more, when they would much rather be texting with friends or playing video games:

  1. This is going to sound really bad, but I text my daughter from downstairs and ask her to come down. This avoids me yelling or travelling up the stairs and instead she gets off the bed or the chaise lounge in her room and moves. I might do this a few times in the evening, over a couple of hours.
  2. I ask them to take the dog, which they wanted sooo much and love sooo much, for a walk. (Warning: my stepson got wise and started running the dog around the block, so he could get back to his computer faster!)
  3. I ask them to strip their beds and carry the sheets to the washing machine in the basement. Then I ask them to come to the basement to pick up the clean clothes and bed sheets to bring back to their rooms.
  4. My daughter helps me remake her bed, although she just turned 16, so the new rule is she is now in charge of her own laundry and that includes sheets and towels. My stepson is next!
  5. Boy reaching into fridgeSome nights I tell them they are on their own for dinner, so they have to make it. (Warning: this may increase your grocery bill. My daughter discovered meal prepping on Pinterest, which resulted in the both of us getting sucked in and doing a separate grocery shop and purchase of specific containers.)
  6. They make their own lunches for school and have been since they turned ten. (Warning: my stepson would open the fridge, look in and say he didn’t know what to make. I tell him to think about it, something will come to him.)
  7. I pay my daughter to clean out the interior of my car – this takes about an hour – she moves really slow.
  8. I ask them to set the table before dinner and then to help clean up after dinner. This includes loading the dishwasher, wiping the island and putting items back in the fridge.
  9. One day I turned off the Wi-Fi and waited, one by one they emerged from their caves saying the Wi-Fi was off. I said, “I know.” (Warning: make sure you know how to turn on and off properly – as I didn’t and we didn’t have Wi-Fi for three days – oh well!)
  10. I bought my daughter a gym membership at my gym and take her with me. (Warning: they may like it and start asking you to go with them.)

So, I think you get the idea.  I intentionally interrupt their sitting time.  My own rule of thumb is to get up every hour and do something standing or moving.  My husband thinks I have a nervous twitch, but, for me it is about pumping the blood and using the muscles.

In addition to getting my kids to move I am also teaching them important life skills.

Oh; I just remembered one more – we have a landline and two portable phones upstairs.  I remove them and bring them downstairs and then call them down to speak to their grandmother – sneaky huh? 🙂

Got any more tricks and tips to getting your tweens and teens moving? Share them with us:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

This entry was posted in Parenting, Physical Health, School-aged Children, Teens, Tweens and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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