Exercise benefits for teens

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 29th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

To improve everything from self-esteem to test scores, teens should make the move to turn off the T-V and get some exercise.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of North Carolina report teens who exercise more are less likely to smoke, drink or engage in other risky behaviors.

Because healthy habits are formed when they are young, kids need their parent’s encouragement and guidance to avoid the call of the couch. That’s why parents should find ways to participate in sports and physical activities with their children.

The data came from a national survey of nearly twelve-thousand seventh- through twelfth-graders.

Children reported how often they pursued sports during the past week and how much time they spent watching T-V and playing video games. They also answered questions about grades, self-esteem, smoking, drinking and sexual activity.

Compared with kids whose main activities were sedentary, those reporting five or more weekly physical activity sessions were LESS likely to have sex, smoke, drink, take drugs, be absent or have low self-esteem.

The more physically active teens were MORE likely to get “A”s in math and science, to get a good night’s sleep and to help with housework.

The researchers don’t know if the findings apply to today’s teens or if childrens’ reports were accurate. But they do say the findings suggest that in answer to a child’s call of “I’m bored!” parents have little to lose by challenging their teen to a little one-on-one basketball.