I was always an active teen and knew I was getting enough weekly exercise. I was lucky. It was what I liked to do, and I had the chance to do it. But new research is showing that my experience isn’t what teens this year are going through, and I find that heavy.
The Difference Enough Weekly Exercise Made for Me
I think about the guys going through high school, their early years of college or starting out in the working world and not getting enough exercise each week, and it weighs on me. I know what a difference it made for me to be physically active, and to think that most guys that age today aren’t enjoying that is rough.
At that age, I didn’t consciously know how much good enough weekly exercise was giving me. I just knew I liked it. I assumed that it helped me to control my weight – which wasn’t too much of an issue at that time for me, so I didn’t think about it much. I could eat as much junk food as I wanted, and it never made a difference.
What I know now is that being on sports teams and enjoying my time at the gym were some of the main reasons that I could eat whatever I wanted at that age. I was always active. If I wasn’t stuck in a chair behind a desk, I was doing something active. It kept me physically fit, helped me sleep better and even helped me deal with stress.
Most Teen Guys Aren’t Very Active
New research from the University of Georgia showed that 3 in 4 teens just aren’t getting enough weekly exercise. The problem was worse with female students than with males, but there were some general trends that struck me as troubling.
What the researchers found was that guys who suffered bullying from others were less likely to be active. As if bullying didn’t make school a garbage experience already, it was also discouraging guys from exercising. It’s a bad trend for their health, and only worsens the situation because physical activity would help them to cope with some of the stress they suffer from the bullying. Interestingly, female students who were bullied were more likely to be physically active.
The research also showed that students in a more supportive school environment were more likely to be physically active and get enough weekly exercise. I get it. Schools have a lot on their shoulders already, but physical activity helps to dictate a person’s health, particularly when it comes to setting the right lifestyle habits early on.
Janani R. Thapa, the lead author of the study published in the Journal of Adolescence, said that schools play a critical role in helping build healthy behaviors such as good eating habits and regular exercise. I agree with her call to schools to create an environment that supports building those habits. Unlike what I learned in calculus class, my love of sports and physical activity has lasted a lifetime for me so far.