Most teenagers start dreaming about the last day of school as soon as Spring Break is over. Unfortunately, parents don’t usually look forward to summer vacation at all because to them it means lots of unsupervised time and constantly arguing with a “lazy” teenager about why they do need to get out of bed before noon. In generations past, summer vacation meant long days spent outside climbing trees, riding bikes, and swimming in anything with more than an inch or two of water. Summer used to be the most active time of the year.
But for today’s teens, summer is more likely to mean long days spent inside the house playing video games or watching videos on YouTube. Without the physical education classes, dance classes, or organized sports teens have during the school year, summer for today’s teens has become the least active part of their year. This is not good news for a generation of teens who are struggling with obesity, diabetes, and other health problems that are related to not getting enough physical activity.
So in addition to arguing about whether or not 11:45 AM can still be considered “morning,” parents need to be make sure they are staying on top of their teens about getting out of the house and being active. Most experts agree that teenagers need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. But before you take all the laundry off the treadmill and start making rules, here are some ways you can help your teenager stay active this summer without making them feel like you are trying to ruin their summer vacation.
Encourage Them to Become a Life Guard
If your teenager is old enough, encourage them to become certified as a life guard so that they can get lots of physical activity while also getting something else teenagers love….a paycheck!
Encourage Them to Become a Babysitter
Becoming a certified babysitter, like being a lifeguard, gives your teens a chance to start earning their own money and as the parent of any toddler can attest to – they won’t spend much time sitting around.
Encourage Them to Become a Camp Counselor
Again, mandatory activity that doesn’t feel like exercising that comes with a paycheck.
Make Mandatory Family Time an Active Activity
Maybe you all take the dog for a walk after dinner or spend 30 minutes working out or lifting weights; it really doesn’t matter what you are doing together as long as it is active and you work on making it fun for everyone.
Designate Internet Free Zones
And by zones we mean parts of the day. If you don’t have a system where you can programmatically shut off access to the internet and/or cable during certain times of the day, simply unplug the router. After a little time spent complaining and being bored, teens will find something to do so have some active suggestions ready so you can steer them in the right direction.
Above all, make sure you are modeling the behavior you want to see in your teens. If you spend more time watching TV, playing video games, or sitting at your computer than you do being active, your kids will follow your lead. If you want them to get more exercise, show they how by doing it yourself.