We exercise every day, and so can you?

Think about your daily routine. How do you spend your time? If fitness doesn’t factor in, you’re cheating your body of the major health benefits that come from daily exercise. Weight control, stress relief, disease prevention, and greater energy are just some of those benefits. Read about four teens who have found a way to stay active every day.

You Have to Play!

Sports are not just for jocks at the Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. Every student is required to play at Kiski, America’s oldest boys’ boarding school. Kiski students learn that physical activity is important for everyone, and many become lifelong exercise buffs as a result.

Thomas Jared, 17, is a senior this year at Kiski. He’s also on the school soccer and basketball teams. “When I began playing basketball in second grade, I had very little experience and was probably the worst player on the team,” says Jared. “But I practiced and worked out regularly with my older cousin. By eighth grade I had become one of the best players on my team.”

During the school year, Jared weight trains in the school’s weight rooms. Because there’s always a teacher or trainer around, he finds it easy to get help with his exercise program. During the summer, he works out at a gym near his home. “It’s difficult for me to find time in the summer to exercise because I work three jobs that keep me very busy,” admits Jared. If he’s tired, Jared shortens his exercise routine. “After I’ve finished my workout for the day, I feel much better than I did before exercising,” he says. “It also clears my mind, so I feel mentally relaxed.”

Overcoming Stereotypes

Laura Scott is a tenth grader from Arkansas. She’s 5′ 9″ with big bones and 210 pounds of body weight. Laura exercises every day; her motivation comes from wanting to prove to people that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. “I look like the person who sits at home and watches TV. But that is not me at all,” says Laura. “I probably exercise more than most of the people at my school.”

At least every other day, Laura takes tae kwon do classes that are 45 minutes long. She belongs to the neighborhood gym and goes for walks with a friend. Before bed, she does toning and stretching exercises to relieve tension. She has always loved watching TV, but now tunes in while exercising. For support, Laura chats about exercise with other teens on the discussion board at YouthNOISE.com. Her dedication has paid off. “I’ve lost four dress sizes, and I’m pretty happy with my body,” she says.

Shared Motivation

Stephanie and Jasmine Torrez are sisters on a mission. Last year, they decided to join the Lady of America fitness center in their New Jersey hometown. The two girls signed up for the club’s FitTEEN program, which gave them a free summer membership. Their motivation was the excess weight they had both gained. “This isn’t me,” Jasmine, now in 10th grade, said of her out-of-shape self. “I didn’t feel comfortable with how I looked or felt. I wanted to lose weight and feel healthy again.”

Stephanie, a ninth grader, shared Jasmine’s frustration. So they started working out at the fitness center six days each week. On Sundays, they walk in New York City. After four weeks, Jasmine had lost 10 pounds and 18 inches. Stephanie had lost 5 pounds and 11 inches total.

“Their attitude changed, too,” says Laura Fresnedo, the personal trainer at the club who helped the girls with their exercise program and eating habits. “They’re happier now and have more self-confidence.”

“I don’t get down [to the club] as much now,” admits Jasmine, who continues exercising regularly with her sister. “I’m more sociable now than when I was a lazy couch potato.”

“Exercise gets your mind off the bad stuff like alcohol and drugs,” Stephanie notes. “It makes me feel good!”

OBJECTIVE

Students will be able to understand some of the benefits of exercise and demonstrate ability to use decision-making and goal-setting skills to plan a personal exercise program.

REVIEW/DISCUSS

  • What are some of the major health benefits of including regular exercise in your daily routine? (weight control, stress management, disease prevention, and greater energy for daily activity)

ACTIVITIES

  • Assign students to plan and develop an exercise program to suit their personal fitness goals. They should first explore the 5 W’s approach outlined in the article. They should also take into consideration any obstacles that they can foresee, and try to address ways to overcome them. (Use Reproduction Master 2, “What’s in the Way of Exercise?” to help students start their programs.) Their program should include a table or spreadsheet, possibly constructed using computer software, to keep track of the implementation phase.
  • Enlist your school’s PE teacher(s) and/or local health club trainers to give your class a “pep talk” about the necessity of physical activity (with an emphasis on the obesity epidemic).

Make the Commitment–Create Your Exercise Plan

To fit exercise into your daily schedule, you have to have a plan! Start by answering the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.

Who?: With whom will you exercise? You can do it alone, but one of the best ways to stay motivated is toexercise with a buddy or group, says Eddie Enriquez, president and co-founder of Centers for Athletic Performance.

What?: Next, pick the types of exercise you’ll do. “Many of the things you’re already doing for fun count as exercise,” says Enriquez. “The key is to make sure you do at least one of them every day.” Make a list of your favorite physical activities and include any household chores or side jobs you do that keep you moving. (Shoveling snow and scrubbing floors count as exercise.)

Where?: Determine where the exercise will take place. It might be at school, at a local gym, inside your home, or around the neighborhood. Make sure it’s convenient, or else you won’t keep it up.

When?: Schedule your exercise the same way you do any important appointments. Figure out when are the best times to exercise, and work other things around them. Aim for a total of 30 minutes to an hour per day.

Why?: All forms of exercise provide multiple benefits, but you may have specific goals in mind. So, remind yourself of why you’re exercising and what each activity will do for you. You might lift weights for greater strength, walk the dog for stress relief, play hockey to condition your heart, stretch for flexibility, and play table tennis to burn calories. Focus on the positive outcome, and have fun!