We all know that exercise is good for you, but it’s particularly great for teens! With life changing rapidly, new school pressures to deal with and bodies maturing into adulthood, there is never a more important time to reap the benefits of physical activity. Some of the upsides of exercise for teens include:
- Relieving mental stress
- Creating strong bones and muscles
- Lowering body fat
- Improved academic performance and memory
- Reduced risk factors for health conditions including heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes
The guidelines for teen exercise recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. The types of exercise should include:
- Aerobic Exercise: Vigorous-intensity exercise, such as athletic team sports like football or running, should take place at least three days a week.
- Muscle-strengthening: Muscle-strengthening activities, such as lunges or planks, should take place at least three days a week.
- Bone-strengthening: Bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope or climbing stairs, should take place at least three days a week.
Bear in mind that many sports and activities – e.g. running track, basketball and tennis – will touch on all three of these!
Team or group sports are particularly beneficial for teens, fostering respect, sportsmanship, leadership, cooperation and increased social confidence.
How to Decrease the Risk of Sports Injuries
While accidents do happen, there are a number of things you and your child can do to reduce the risk of them damaging themselves:
- Talk to your child and let them know that they should always tell an adult and stop doing the activity if something hurts or doesn’t feel right. Don’t encourage kids to tough it out and push through.
- Encourage your teens to play a variety of sports and take part in a range of different exercise options so that they’re not continually putting strain on the same muscles and joints.
- Ensure they are aware of the importance of warming up. A few stretches before playing sport or working out can make all the difference to avoiding mid-session injuries.
- Provide a healthy well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and maintain a regular eating schedule.
- Hydration is always important before, during and after exercise, but in Cayman this is even more critical. Parents should keep an eye out for symptoms of heat-related illness, such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion or fainting. Don’t forget to apply high factor sunscreen before playing sports outdoors.
- Make sure your child has the right equipment. Good quality footwear that is appropriate for the exercise your child is doing is key, as is protective equipment like helmets and pads.
When to See a Sports Medicine Doctor
Lots of sports injuries can be treated at home – for example the RICE treatment for sprains and strains (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) – however, there may sometimes be signs that you need to seek professional medical help. These include:
- Consistent pain during or after sports
- Persistent or new swelling around a joint
- Recurrent instability – joints 'give way'
- Pain that is not alleviated by a period of active rest
- A suspected break or serious injury.
See below for a list of professionals who offer sports rehabilitation services.
It’s important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of concussion. These include headache, nausea, balance problems or dizziness, double or fuzzy vision, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling sluggish or groggy, concentration or memory problems, confusion. Seek medical attention straight away if your teen displays or mentions any of these symptoms after a head injury.