It should generally go without saying that working out by engaging in physical activities, such as sports or weightlifting, produces a number of health benefits that protect the human body from preventative health issues. But the short answer as to why we need to motivate our children to workout: because it’s healthy.
However, being so quick to accept such a universal conclusion like “exercise is good for your health” might not be so wise. This isn’t to say that exercise doesn’t result in good health, but that we should actually take a look into what types of exercises produce which health benefits as well as the extent of those health benefits afforded to us.
Regular exercise possesses a powerful set of proven mental benefits, such as improving memory, sharpening your thinking skills, and preventing depression. Additionally, exercise is often cited as key in reducing the odds of a number of significant causes of death including obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a host of mental illnesses like dementia. Studies have reported that hormones typically associated with physical activity, like adrenaline, have significant connotations towards preventing cancer.
While general exercise has benefits across the demographic splits of any population, be it age, gender, socioeconomic status, a crucial distinction to weigh into consideration are the differences that regular, healthy exercise habits render for adolescents in comparison to adults. The developmental period of adolescence seems to be an especially important period for parents to get their teens involved in developing healthy exercise habits. Let’s explore some of the reasons behind this.
Exercise Reliably Makes a Difference for Teens at Risk for Depression or Suicide
One frequent worry that many parents might have regarding their teenage children might involve the mental health, especially since the rise of social media. While parents can do the utmost to care and ensure that their children grow up successfully, adolescence often involves a disconnect between the emotions of the child and parent. This makes it tricky to really empathize deeply and understand what your children are going through.
Adolescence is a developmental period where children are especially vulnerable towards developing depressive symptoms. The similarity between depression and suicide indicates that there usually is some degree of comorbidity. A number of undesirable outcomes such as changes in sleeping and eating habits, not tolerating praise, violent actions, and drug and alcohol abuse are just some of the reasons to take the initiative against these mental illnesses.
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that exercise produces a statistically significant antidepressant effect on adolescents aged 13 to 17 years old. Getting your teenager to participate in team-oriented physical activities such as sports or finding an individual exercise routine that fits them is a great way to prevent any chance developments of such problematic behaviors.
Exercise is a Favorable Alternative to Some Medications
In the same category, the use of antidepressants or anxiolytics to control unfavorable behaviors from developing in teens is concerning if those medications are to be taken in the long run. Among the classes of drugs, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) drugs belonging to the benzodiazepine class (think Xanax or Klonopin) are notorious for engendering dependence, losing their effectiveness over a few weeks or months, and making the symptoms they’re supposed to be treated worse than before.
The actual effectiveness of drugs such as Xanax in the long-term is the subject of a heated, ongoing controversy in the scientific community, and there is no defining consensus as of yet. At any rate, the deleterious effects of dependence associated with the use of these drugs is a major concern when it comes to the treatment of anxiety in teens.
In these cases, exercise manifests as a greatly preferable option. In fact, exercise might be considered a blanket solution for mediating nonspecific therapeutic social and psychological treatments. Its applicability in the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects it naturally grants makes it incredibly accessible and helpful.
Exercise Produces a Number of Physical Developmental Benefits
Consistent and correctly performed exercise is not only comparable to an all-purpose tonic to prevent and work against a number of mental issues, it also produces measurable benefits to your physical and the overall health of your body’s organ systems. Participating in moderate aerobic exercise such as walking has the potential to bring a host of minor benefits including weight loss, muscle strengthening and definition, stronger bones, lower heart rate, improved complexion, and so forth. Having these physical benefits adds up over time, and can be a major source of confidence for a teenager.