Research Says Teens Need to Be as Active as Younger Kids


Research has found that adolescents need to exercise just like their younger counterparts in order to improve their health outcomes.

University of Exeter researchers discovered that even two minutes of high-intensity exercise four times a day can improve health outcomes for adolescents, while the same amount of moderate exercise does not. The University Herald reports that short bursts of exercise spread out over the course of the day, which is what young children tend to do naturally, must be high-intensity to improve blood sugar levels, fat metabolism, and blood pressure in adolescents after eating a fatty meal.

“Children and adolescents tend to perform brief bouts of exercise. This study shows that the intensity of this pattern of exercise is important, with high-intensity providing superior health benefits than moderate-intensity exercise,” Dr. Alan Barker said in a statement.

During the study, researchers measured blood sugar, blood pressure, and fat metabolism at regular intervals over eight hours. Some participants were asked to execute four sessions of high- or moderate-intensity movement. The sessions were the same with the only difference was the intensity-level. From this, it became apparent that high-intensity exercise is the key factor in receiving maximum benefits from the movement an adolescent accumulates in a day.

The findings were published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental.

According to Jeanne Rose of the Gazette Review, many studies have emphasized that short bursts of exercise at high-intensity result in better cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease, reports the article, is the leading cause of death in the UK and is one of the leading causes of death in the US. Typically, cardiovascular issues can begin developing during the teenage years.

The CDC states that the benefits of regular exercise for adolescents include: improvement in strength and endurance; assisting in building healthy bones and muscles; helping with weight control; reducing anxiety and stress; increasing self-esteem; and the possibility of improving cholesterol levels.

The CDC adds that schools can play a large part in promoting physical activity through comprehensive school physical activity programs like recess, intramural sports, and physical education. P.E. should be provided to all students in all grades and should be taught by qualified teachers. The right types of exercise can also improve students’ academic performance by boosting behaviors such as attentiveness, concentration, and focus.

Statistics published on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition site concerning adolescents includes the following facts: only one in three children are physically active every day; more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic activity to meet the youth guidelines; children now spend more than seven and a half hours each day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer); nearly one-third of students in high school play video or computer games for 3 hours or more on an average school day.

The most important points of teen health comes down to fitness and nutrition, reports the Mayo Clinic. The healthy habits formed in the teen years can last an entire lifetime, and parents should encourage their kids by supporting his or her interest in organized sports. They can also help their children who are not interested in sports by suggesting alternate ways to exercise.

06 15, 2015
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