Is your teenager too sedentary? There's a pretty good chance that this is the case. Nationwide, our kids tend to be more inactive than in previous years. They spend more time in front of the television, and -- lately -- more hours playing computer games or surfing the 'Net.
Referring to a Surgeon General's report she commissioned on physical activity and health, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, said that nearly half of young people aged 12 to 21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis.
Shalala also said that physical activity "declines dramatically with age during adolescence," and that girl teens are much less physically active than boy teens.
Sure, say the experts, there can be a genetic predisposition to becoming overweight, but that predisposition has not changed in the last 30 years. Yet the percentage of overweight kids has ballooned.
The less vigorous an exercise is, the longer it has to be done to gain any real benefit. The list below suggests several moderate exercises, in order of intensity, along with recommended times.
- Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
- Playing touch football for 30 to 45 minutes
- Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minutes
- Shooting baskets for 30 minutes
- Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
- Fast social dancing for 30 minutes
- Swimming laps for 20 minutes
- Playing basketball for 15 to 20 minutes
Continued on page 3: Helping a Heavy Teen