I am the father of a teenager. It’s almost like being part of a recovery group for those that have or had teens. They are moody, stubborn, and know-it-alls. Sometimes, we think they aren’t even human. So besides sending them to an island or planet far away from the rest of normal humanity, what can be done to keep the rest of us from wanting to strangle them? Could exercise help, at least a little?
Believe it or not, the teenage brain functions from the same hormones and mechanoreceptors as an adult brain. Be it their hormones are raging at a completely different level, they are the same hormones as adults. When humans exercise, endorphins are released to make us feel good and reduce our perception of pain. “Runners high” is an example of this feeling. Our attitudes are more positive and outlook on life for a little bit is much better. Self esteem improves and our physical appearance is more pleasing to ourselves usually also. According to WebMD, exercise can be a treatment for depression. So maybe we should just tell our teenagers to get around the block a few times!
What exercise should hormonal teens do? If you ask them, their answer is only something that involves texting or watching YouTube. Obviously we are getting away from that, so the answer is something they can enjoy and sustain enjoyment. It doesn’t have to be high intensity constant motion for 60 minutes. Going on bike rides and hikes are still fun activities for all ages. We are all in much better moods after exercising in groups, so make socialization a part of it. For some teens, poor body image and self esteem prevent them from being more socially active. Exercising with them can ease their fears and a possible change in their physical appearance is the welcome side effect they are looking for. When you do physical activity outside, a whole world of additional benefits opens up also from stimulating all of the senses too.
Before we stick them on that rocket to space and ship to the deserted island, let’s encourage our teens by being active with them. It may not hurt us to lose a few pounds and step away from the devices either. Consult a doctor if serious depression or suicidal thoughts occur. For the “normal” raging teen, maybe tiring them out outside like we used to do when they were small, can still be a good strategy.
If you have any other strategies for dealing with teens, please share them with Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org, so he can help other parents not strangle their teens!