Physical Activity For Teens


By: Evan Woodford, Community HealthCorps
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

Did you know that the recommended amount of physical activity for teens is 60 minutes a day, for 7 days a week? While that may seem like a lot, but it can actually be very manageable. That is because physical activity is simply defined as “movement of the body that uses energy.” Therefore, it is not limited to traditional sports or the activities that come to mind when you hear the word “exercise”. Since those 60 minutes a day can be broken up into increments as short as 10 minutes at a time, suddenly it may not seem all that overwhelming. Anything that gets you up and using your body can be counted, as long as it is of a moderate intensity. But how can we tell if something is a “moderate-intensity” activity? Activity at this level will cause you to feel an elevated heart rate and increased breathing, but it would not make it any harder to talk. In contrast, a low-intensity activity will not require much effort or raise your heart rate or breathing, while a vigorous activity would cause you to breathe so hard it becomes difficult to talk.

If you were to explore the weekly recommendations for teens, you would soon discover that there are two categories of physical activity- either muscle strengthening or bone strengthening. Muscle strengthening includes activities such as pushups or resistance training, while activities like running and basketball can also count as bone strengthening because they promote bone growth. Specifically, the recommendation for teens is that they get three days of each type of activity in per week.

Just as a sort of reference, know that over the course of an hour sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games, you will burn 60 calories. On the other hand, jogging for an hour will burn about 400 calories. These numbers will not be the same for each person because everyone has different bodies, but these numbers are good averages. These are the calories burned per hour of some physical activities you may not have thought about:

Cleaning the house- 207 calories

Playing drums- 236 calories

Mowing the lawn- 325 calories

Cooking or preparing food- 150 calories

Dancing- 350 calories

Fishing- 236 calories

Gardening- 295 calories

Hiking- 350 calories

Skateboarding- 295 calories

Walking- 210 calories

The important thing to remember is that getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity does not have to be an insurmountable task. Making small changes to daily life, such as walking instead of driving or taking the bus or using stairs instead of elevators, can begin to make positive differences in the way you feel.


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