One of the most popular stereotypes related to teens is that they world-class sleepers, capable of sleeping nearly the whole day away. While most people attribute a teen’s sleeping pattern to laziness, what they may not know is that teenagers have a different body clock compared to adults and children. Therefore, fitness activities should be patterned around this to motivate them to keep fit.
Before you chastise your teenager and force them to go to sleep at 9 in the evening, perhaps you should first understand a teenager’s body clock.
A teenager’s body clock
Every person has a 24-hour body clock that exercises an influence over one’s sleep cycle, body temperature, appetite, and hormones. Known as circadian rhythm, this internal body clock is actually the main culprit to your teenager’s seemingly abnormal sleeping pattern. During childhood, the circadian rhythm is usually set to a bedtime of around 8 or 9AM. But once your child reaches the age of adolescence, their body clock also adjusts, making them feel sleepy at 11PM or much later.
According to research, a teenager’s circadian rhythm has a two-hour delay compared to an adult’s circadian rhythm. An adult’s brain releases the hormone melatonin, a hormone that makes one feel sleepy, at around 10 in the evening. But because of the two-hour lag time, melatonin is secreted by a teenager’s brain at around 12AM. That is the reason why teens stay up late at night and wake up late in the morning. It’s not laziness, but a purely biological phenomenon.
What can be done?
Knowing the difference of a teenager’s energy pattern spells a lot of difference when it comes to motivating them to get moving. You can’t employ the same strategies that work for you, since you have a different body clock. However, other strategies might just work better for these nocturnal teenagers. Here are some tips to motivate your teens to exercise and keep fit:
Start with baby steps. Teens who are only starting to exercise will not be motivated by a one-hour aerobic exercise right after getting out of bed. Start small by encouraging them with a small physical activity that can be done every day, such as walking home after school. Once it becomes a habit, this 10-minute walk can progress into longer walks as time goes by. Help your teenager set goals and make sure that they track their progress.
Go for sports. Sport is one of the many interests of teenagers, so you should encourage them if they want to engage in team sports, such as football and basketball. Don’t worry too much about these sports distracting your kid from his studies. Set limits so that your child will have time for both sports and studies. For teenagers who are not into team sports, they can still engage in solitary sports, like swimming and running.
Take advantage of commercial breaks. Teenagers love to watch television. Why not use the television to challenge your son or daughter to exercise during commercial breaks. Instead of not doing anything during commercials, join your teenager in doing sit ups or push ups during the break. They will become more motivated if you join him in exercising.
Make exercising fun. Teens easily get bored, so you should make sure that the workouts you give them are fun and enjoyable. Try enrolling them in classes that they takes interest in, such as dancing and martial arts. If your teen loves the great outdoors, set aside time for hiking and camping. Even simple household chores and gardening can keep your teenager moving.
Teens are not hopeless cases when it comes to exercising. You just have to refocus your teen’s activities so that they can focus on their fitness. For more information regarding teen fitness, contact us.