Common Exercise Mistakes Teens Make

Exercise! Everyone says it is important and that we are not getting enough of it, but how often do we get guidance on how to do it? Teens, because of their short life experience, are more likely than adults to make some common mistakes when it comes to fitness. Here are some examples of those mistakes and some tips to give the teen in your life:

Mistake #1. Don’t exercise.

So many teens simply choose not to be active. It might be because they are already overweight and fear how they look when they move, they think it will take too much time, or they think it will cause pain or boredom. Nothing could be further than the truth.

In studies, girls who are active, no matter how much they weigh, consistently say they feel better about themselves and their bodies than girls who are not active. So, even if you feel too large to “look cute” while you are skating or biking or whatever you choose to do, you will feel better about yourself. And, it only takes 30 minutes of activity, five times a week to make a difference, so it doesn’t have to take up large amounts of your time. Exercise does not translate to pain or boredom! Beyond the initial soreness one might feel, if they are not active, exercise should not hurt, and it should be fun! If you hate team sports, try martial arts, yoga, biking, hiking, or swimming.

Mistake #2: Exercise to Lose Weight

When you decide to exercise, you should be doing so because you want to be healthy or get in shape. Exercise is one of the best ways to make your body stronger, healthier and feel better, and this should be your goal. Your primary objective should not be to lose weight or to look better, because you will only get disillusioned quickly. Truly healthy exercise will tone your body over time, not make you a model in a month.

Mistake #3: Do Only One Thing

Doing the same type of exercise over and over again not only causes boredom, it can even make that exercise less effective. This is because the body eventually gets used to that type of exercise. Cross training helps build your overall fitness, helps prevent injury, and keeps things interesting. Ideally, you should be getting elements of aerobic exercise, core exercise, and strength training. Aerobic exercise, such as dancing, running or biking, strengthens your heart and lungs and builds your endurance. Core body exercise, such as sit-ups, yoga and Pilates, helps you develop better balance and builds stronger abs and back. Strength training, such as lifting weights, builds stronger muscles and bones. Many girls are hesitant to try strength training for fear of “bulking up.” But in actuality, women do not have enough testosterone in their body to build large muscle mass with ordinary strength training. Instead it offers girls a toned, slender look, boosts your metabolism, and prevents many health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis. Additionally, your teen will see better results more quickly if they engage several muscles groups, like their core, abs and arms, at the same time. So, doing alternating leg lunges while also pressing 5 pound dumbbells overhead will give you a great cardio workout while you tone. For teens, the best way to stay fit is to engage in several fun activities – go rock climbing with a friend one day for strength, take a walk with mom for cardio, go swimming, and so on.

Mistake #4: Don’t Exercise Enough

Many people expect dramatic results from a little exercise. A truly healthy exercise program includes workouts 3 to 4 times throughout the week. Some people only exercise on the weekends because that’s when they have time. The problem is that exercising only two days a week, right in a row, doesn’t allow your body to build muscle and tone. More than likely it will lead to injury.

Mistake #5: Exercise Too Much

Some people get a little obsessed and take exercise too far. You should be taking at least one full day of rest every week, and you should feel good during the week, not exhausted all the time. Obviously, if you are working hard to get in shape, then you want to see results as fast as possible. But, if you work out until you drop from exhaustion or until it hurts, then you will likely cause yourself an injury and you will also likely end up hating to exercise. Moderate exercise is the way to go.

Mistake #6: Target One Area of the Body

So many teens have a “problem area” they want to “fix.” Maybe they want a flatter belly or more defined arms, but although exercise will help, doing exercises to address a single part of the body is a mistake. It’s impossible to “spot reduce” (lose weight in one area of your body). For example, if you want lean, flat abs, but you’re overweight, all the crunches in the world won’t help. You must lose the excess body fat for you to see the chiseled abs the crunches are creating. To get a flat stomach, you must reduce calories and increase your cardio workouts.

Mistake #7: Neglect Your Water Bottle
Dehydration leads to all sorts of problems, including making you feel sluggish and struggling while you are exercising. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Start drinking water a half hour before your workout, and continue to drink during and after.

Final Thoughts…

Done right, exercise is a great way to get strong and healthy.

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