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Physical Activity for Youth



Some teenagers become less active as they grow - partly because they stop playing games they associate with childhood, and partly because school gets harder, leaving less time to get out and do things. 

But staying active has huge benefits.

Being active helps you relax and sleep better by relieving stress and tension. It builds stamina and improves focus and concentration during school. It's the perfect way to make new friends or keep in touch with old ones. And it doesn't have to be difficult. 

Some ideas for ways to get more activity into your day: 

  • Get more play: there are loads of ways to get active and have fun. Skateboard, fly a kite, throw a frisbee or kick a ball around with your friends. Walk the dog, shoot some hoops, go skating or dance. 
  • Team up: play football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, hockey, soccer or any other group sport. You could also enroll in dancing, go rollerblading, bowl or join a swim team. 
  • Try active transportation: walk to school, ride a bike, rollerblade or jog. Or get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way with a friend. 
  • Show up for Phys Ed: develop and practise fundamental skills like throwing, catching, hopping, skipping and jumping. The more you do in class, the less you'll need to do on your own time to get the benefits of physical activity. 
  • Break out: if you want a bit of a challenge, or something different, take up rock climbing, water polo, volleyball, yoga, fencing, skate-skiing, snowboarding, archery or any other activity that interests you. Ask your gym teacher or someone at your local community centre about getting started. 

Tips for being active:

  • Warm up first: if you're doing a strenuous activity like running or soccer, start slowly and gradually pick up the pace. Do some stretches before and after. See Warming Up and Cooling Down 
  • Cool down last: as you complete your activity session, cool down your muscles by slowing your pace before stopping 
  • Stay safe: make sure you always wear the right protective gear like helmets, kneepads and mouth guards. Allow time to stretch, warm up, and cool down. Drink lots of water, and tell someone where you are going.
  • Work out a plan: figure out the best time to squeeze in your activities, (before school? After work?) And don't waste your weekends or holidays vegging out in front of the TV or playing video games. 
  • Take a study break: studying is important. But even if it's your absolute number one priority, try to work some activity around it. You'll learn better! Try something as easy as dancing around your bedroom to your favourite CD
  • Get serious: try to include some vigorous huff and puff stuff a few times a week and make it last for 15 minutes or more each time. At least 60 minutes of physical activity is recommended each day. 
  • Keep motivated: involve other people - friends, family, co-workers and neighbours - to help maintain your (and their) interest in physical activities. 
  • Be a coach or a referee: already a player? Know the rules? Consider coaching others or refereeing. 

**This information was adapted from the 'Go for your life' campaign with kind permission by the Victorian Government, Melbourne, Australia.

Last Updated: January 9, 2013