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Reasons for Lack of Exercise in Teens

author image Shelley Frost
Reasons for Lack of Exercise in Teens
Technology contributes to sedentary lifestyles. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Approximately 50 percent of young Americans aged 12 to 21 lack a regular, vigorous activity routine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children and teens need regular exercise for strong muscles and bones, fewer health problems and a reduced risk for obesity. Identifying the exercise barriers than keep your teen from being active allows you to help her become more physically fit.

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Less Physical Education

A decrease in the amount of physical education time in schools contributes to less teen exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 19 percent of teens in high school participate in a daily physical education class lasting at least 20 minutes. If PE class is the primary source of exercise for a teen, he does not get enough regular daily exercise. In some cases, teens are able to opt out of PE or are only required to take it during certain semesters, meaning he could go for long stretches of time without any exercise during the school year.

More Technology

Computers, TVs, video games, and smart phones promote a sedentary lifestyle. Daily hours in front of a screen is a common teen schedule. An online Skype or social media chat replaces a walk to a friend's house and an active get-together. Video games replace neighborhood pick-up games. Teens who spend long periods of time online or on the sofa watching the tube, miss out on valuable exercise and fitness activities.

Missing Motivation

Like adults, teens often lack the motivation or desire to exercise. If physical fitness hasn't been a valued activity in the family, a teen is less likely to put forth the effort or find the motivation to exercise. If the teen is overweight or feels self-conscious about her physical abilities, she may also feel less motivated to exercise. Some teens in this situation feel embarrassed to exercise in public.

No Access

Teens also need access to exercise equipment, sports teams or space to perform fitness routines. A lack of access makes it more difficult for the teen to exercise regularly. When access to physical fitness equipment or space is limited, helping your teen find creative ways to exercise is a way to overcome the barrier. Scheduling conflicts are also possible roadblocks for accessing the tools needed to stay physically active. If a teen has lots of homework, works a part-time job or carries much of the household responsibilities, he may find it difficult to make time for exercise.

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