Fun Ways to Encourage Your Teen to Be More Active

Nearly half of American teenagers aren’t active enough. Often at that age, between school, part-time jobs, and other things on their minds, teens can become more sedentary.

It’s helpful to be a positive role model for your teen. The more they see you engaging in physical exercise, the more likely they’ll be to get active. Although they probably won’t want to do the same activities as you – perish the thought!

If you are fortunate enough to have teens that enjoy spending time with you, you can:

  • Go on family walks or hikes
  • Do an after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood
  • Go on bike rides, or a family swim, or a game of tennis or basketball.

Often the best way is to get suggestions from your teen. You may be surprised by what they suggest.

For optimum health, teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Here are some suggestions to encourage your teen to be more active.

Present them with the benefits of physical activity

Teens aren’t that interested in reducing their cholesterol or preventing osteoporosis. Present them with the benefits that are relevant to them now, such as:

  • Decreased stress/anxiety
  • More natural weight control (don’t put pressure on this)
  • Improved strength, agility, and flexibility
  • Improved confidence and self-image
  • Better quality of sleep
  • More energy

Offer them suggestions that are free or low-cost, and easy to implement

Often teens don’t want or don’t have the cash to spend on classes and sports sessions. Here are some suggestions for either free or low-cost activities teens enjoy:

  • Tag games
  • Rollerblading or skateboarding
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Gymnastics
  • Trampolining (you could get a trampoline)
  • Cycling
  • Soccer
  • Brisk walking

Get them to involve their friends

Teens, like the rest of us, are more likely to want to exercise with friends. Many of the above activities are doable with friends.

Make it easy for your teen by offering a lift, equipment, or a space to exercise. Teens can enjoy doing at-home workouts with YouTube videos or apps, and they can get just as fit at home as at the gym.

Working out at home has the added benefit of being easy, free, and less threatening for teens who may be concerned about their weight or body shape.

Bodyweight exercises with resistance bands are a perfect way for teens to combine aerobic activity (which they need) and building strength and flexibility. You can find some spunky examples of resistance bands at

Encourage them to increase activity at their own pace

Teens don’t react well to pressure, and if you want to get them to move more, it’s essential to allow them to do this at their own pace.

Part of the reason some teens don’t start a new activity is that they aren’t sure if they’ll succeed. Therefore it’s important for them to feel that it’s OK to start slowly.

Encourage brothers or sisters to be supportive

It’s easier when you know your family is on your side, and this includes siblings, whether as spectators or fellow participants.

Who knows, they may end up doing things together and finding new ways to enjoy each other’s company.

Take personality into account

Is your teen competitive by nature? A team sport may be the way to go.

Is your teen more solitary? Hiking, long walks, or cycling might be more their style.

Be there for them when possible

If your teen is engaged in a team sport, be there to cheer them on. Your presence can make all the difference. Your teen may not say it, but often the presence of a supportive parent or another adult can go a long way. By being there, you are showing your teen that what they do matters to you.

Find ways to be more active in the day-to-day

If your teen likes shopping, park far away from the entrance. Take them to the biggest mall where they’ll have to walk for hours. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, and yet it is underrated by most people.

Drop them off further away from school, a friend’s house, the youth club, etc. Every extra bit of walking adds up!

Have a frisbee in the back of the car. An impromptu frisbee game burns more energy than you’d think.

There you have it, lots of ways to get your teen more active. Have fun with these ideas, and here’s to improved physical fitness for you and your teen!


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