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8 biggest benefits of exercise for teenagers

The NHS recommends that teenagers need an hour of physical activity every day to help stay healthy.

Keeping fit like this provides more than the obvious health benefits, it can help improve a teenager's mood, sharpen their mind and help their skin.

Exercise guidelines for teenagers

The 60 minutes of exercise should combine moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like walking fast, to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, including running.

On 3 days a week, there should also be muscle-strengthening moves, like push-ups and bone-strengthening exercise, including running.

Many sports and activities help towards these targets, including playing football, gymnastics and martial arts training.

Weight control

Because exercise helps use oxygen, it causes your body to burn stored fat and helps you maintain a healthy weight. For instance, if you walk four miles a day, four times a week, you can burn about 1,600 calories, or nearly half a pound a week. If you don't change your diet at all and keep walking the same distance over six months, you'll lose 12 pounds. Walk the same distance for a year and you'll drop 24 pounds!

The great thing about exercise is you don't have to do it all at one time. After all, not many teenagers have time to walk four miles after school! But you can do four miles in short bursts throughout your day. Here's an idea of how to work in some exercise into your day:

  • Walk around the school playground during lunchtime instead of sitting or standing around – you can still chat with your friends!
  • Take a one mile walk after school with friends or the family dog.

If you stick to the walking programme, you'll see benefits with:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle strengthening and definition
  • Stronger bones
  • A lower heart rate
  • Better mood
  • An improved complexion

Stronger muscles

Most people know that exercise keeps muscles strong. But did you know that strong muscles burn more calories? Muscle mass is a metabolically active tissue. In other words, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even when you're not working out.

Studies estimate that for each pound of muscle you add to your body, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories per day. So an extra five pounds of muscle will burn about 175-250 calories a day, or an extra pound of fat every 14-20 days.

Because men have more muscle mass, they burn calories faster and lose weight more easily than girls. So girls need to work out daily to stay strong and in shape.

Stronger bones

Regular, moderate exercise, particularly weight-burning exercises like walking, running, jogging, and dancing, keeps your bones strong. Studies show that resistance and strengthening exercises also boost bone mass and keep muscles strong.

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