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Understand Teens to Teach Them Fitness

Posted 01/11/2013 | By HealthCorps

In order to create fun exercise programs for teens between the ages of 13 – 19, health professionals need to understand the mindset, abilities and challenges of teens.  Here are some important considerations:

1-    Cognitive ability – No matter how mature a teen appears to be, they are guided by cognitive development that may not be in similar pace.  Teens have short attention spans so lots of different exercises and choreography may keep them more focused.  You may need to break exercise movements down into simple step-by-step formulas.  Using apps and technology based approaches may also inspire them to exercise.

2-    Physical ability – Teens come in all shapes and sizes, and growth spurts occur erratically.  So equipment needs to fit their size.  Many teens may also be out of shape and feel like they simply cannot do even the easiest exercise moves.  While Not all exercise modalities will feel good.  Some teens may connect with yoga, while others enjoy the challenge of weight training.  Still others may prefer dance or solo type programs like tennis.  Getting on a regular exercise programs will help them to lose excess pounds, become fitter, and improve their physical abilities.

3-    Teens need positive encouragement – At this stage in life, teens experience a lot of “no’s.”  They also may be struggling with self esteem issues for a variety of reasons.  Exercise experiences can feel humiliating, especially if they are out of shape.  Girls may not like sweating or body odor.  Sharing personal stories of challenge, exposing them to easier routines initially and emphasizing how exercise will make them feel and look, can help inspire them to get moving.

4-    Mentor them – Share your personal goals with them so they can understand what it’s like to set goals.  Share setbacks with them so they recognize that you understand failure and challenge.  If you struggled with weight issues, let them know, especially if you have been able to reach a goal weight and maintain it for a significant period of time.

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