Being physically active may help you control your weight, increase flexibility and balance, and improve your mood. You don't have to do boring exercise routines. You can be active through daily activities, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
This section can help you to . . .
Be active every day.
Have fun with your friends.
Stay active indoors, too.
Be active every day
Physical activity should be part of your daily life, whether you play sports, take P.E. or other exercise classes, or even get from place to place by walking or bicycling. You should be physically active for 60 minutes a day, but you don't have to do it all at once!
Have fun with your friends
Being active can be more fun with friends or family members. You may also find that you make friends when you join active clubs or community activities. Teach each other new games or activities, and keep things interesting by choosing a different activity each day:
other actions that get you moving, like walking around the mall
What if I don't have money for sports equipment?
You don't need money or equipment to stay active. You can dance, walk the dog, or use free community facilities to do your 60 minutes of daily physical activity. If you would like to play a sport or game that requires equipment, check with your neighbors or friends at school to see if you can borrow or share supplies.
Support your friends and challenge them to be healthy with you. You could even take the President's Challenge (see the Resources at the end of this document). Or sign up with your friends for fun, lively events, like charity walks, fun runs, or scavenger hunts.
Many teens spend a lot of time indoors on "screen time": watching TV, surfing the web, or playing video games. Too much screen time can lead you to have excess body fat or a higher weight. Instead, be active outdoors to burn calories and get extra vitamin D on a sunny day.
How to cut back your screen time
Tape your favorite shows and watch them later to keep from zoning out and flipping through channels.
Replace after-school TV and video-game time with physical activities in your home, school, or community.
Gradually reduce the time you spend using your phone, computer, or TV. Challenge your friends or family members to join you, and see who can spend the least amount of time in front of a screen each week.
Set up a text-free time with your friends—a length of time when you can be physically active together and agree not to send or respond to text messages.
Turn off your cell phone before you go to bed.
Stay active indoors, too
On cold or wet days, screen time is not the only option. Find ways to be active inside:
Play indoor sports or active games in your building or home, at a local recreation center, or in your school gym.
Dance to your favorite music by yourself or with friends.
If you have a gaming system, choose active dance and sports games that track your movement.
Take Your Time
Make changes slowly. Do not expect to change your eating or activity habits overnight. Changing too much too fast can hurt your chances of success.
Look at ways you can make your eating and physical activity habits healthier. Use a food and activity journal for 4 or 5 days, and write down everything you eat, your activities, and your emotions. Review your journal to get a picture of your habits. Do you skip breakfast? Are you physically active most days of the week? Do you eat when you are stressed?
Know what's holding you back. Are there unhealthy snack foods at home that are too tempting? Is the food at your cafeteria too high in fat and added sugars? Do you find it hard to resist drinking several sweetened sodas a day because your friends do it?
Set a few realistic goals for yourself. First, try replacing a couple of the sodas you drink with unsweetened beverages. Once you are drinking less soda, try cutting out all soda. Then, set a few more goals, like drinking low-fat or fat-free milk, eating more fruits, or getting more physical activity each day.
Use the information in this booklet and the following resources to help you. Stay positive and focused by remembering why you want to be healthier—to look, feel, move, and learn better. Accept setbacks—if you don't meet one of your eating or physical activity goals one day, do not give up. Just try again the next day.
Get a buddy at school or someone at home to support your new habits.Ask a friend, sibling, parent, or guardian to help you make changes and stick with your new habits.
Make It Work for You
Being healthy sounds like a lot of work, right? It doesn't have to be. This chart will help you plan healthy meals and work healthy habits into your day. Put this on your fridge or in your school locker for quick reminders.
Breakfast: one banana, a slice of whole-grain bread with peanut butter, and milk
Lunch:a turkey sandwich with cheese, dark leafy lettuce, tomato, and red peppers on whole-wheat bread
Dinner:two whole-grain taco shells with chicken or black beans, low-fat cheese, and romaine lettuce
Make healthy habits part of your day
Eating healthy and being active can be difficult because you spend much of your day in school and eat meals that are prepared by others. Be a Health Champion by becoming more involved in your meals and school activities. Here's a checklist to help you work healthy habits into your day.
BE A HEALTH CHAMPION!
Each night, pack a healthy lunch and snacks for the next day.
Go to bed at a regular time every night to recharge your body and mind. Be sure to turn off your phone, TV, and other devices when you go to bed.
Walk or bike to school if you live nearby and can safely do so.
Drink water throughout the day. Avoid sodas and other high-calorie drinks.
Between classes, stand up and walk around, even if your next subject is in the same room.
If a recess is allowed at your school, be sure to take a walk, jump rope, or play an active game with friends.
Be active in gym classes.
At lunchtime, eat the lunch you packed. If you have lunch money, spend it on healthy options. Avoid sodas, chips, and candy from the vending machines.
Stay active after school by joining a sports team or dance group. Walk the dog or jump into a neighborhood pick-up game of basketball, soccer, or softball.
Be involved in the food choices made in your home. Help make dinner and eat with your family.
Save screen time for after your activities and limit it to less than 2 hours.