Physical Activity for Teens and 20s

Take Care of Yourself: Physical Activity for Teens and 20s

What are the benefits of being physically active?

  • Children and teens up to age 17 years:
    • Improved bone health
    • Helps with maintaining a healthy weight
    • Improved heart, lung, and muscle fitness
    • Improved brain function (cognition)
    • Decreased risk for depression
  • Teens and adults age 18 years and older:
    • Decreases the chance of an early death
    • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
    • Decreased anxiety
    • Decreased risk for depression
    • Improved quality of life
    • Improved physical function
    • Improved sleep
What are the benefits of being physically active?

How much physical activity should I do?

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that teens age 13-17 years perform 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
    • These activities should be a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities
      • Aerobic activities: Activities that involve moving large muscles for a sustained period of time. Examples include running, dancing, swimming, or biking.
      • Muscle-strengthening activities: Activities that involve making muscles work more than they usually do during everyday activities. Examples include lifting weights or working with resistance bands.
      • Bone-strengthening activities: Activities that produce a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. The most common force that promotes bone growth is impact with the ground. Examples of activities that produce this type of force are walking, running or jumping rope. Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, can also strengthen bones.
  • Teens and young adults age 18 years and older have slightly different recommendations from the CDC than younger teens. This is because at 18 years old you are considered an adult. The CDC recommends:
    • At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week OR 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
    • Research has shown that spreading activity out over 3 days per week has increased health benefits. This can also reduce the risk for injury and excessive fatigue.
Get 1 hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or get at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

Examples of Physical Activity

Moderate-intensity aerobic

  • Brisk walking
  • Bike riding
  • Active recreation, like kayaking, swimming or hiking
  • Playing games that require catching and throwing, such as baseball or softball
  • House and yard work, such as mopping or pushing a lawn mower
  • Some video games that require movement

Vigorous-intensity aerobic

  • Running
  • Bike riding
  • Active games that involve running, such as flag football
  • Jumping rope
  • Skiing (cross-country or downhill)
  • Snowboarding
  • Sports like soccer, basketball, or tennis
  • Martial arts
  • Vigorous dancing

Muscle strengthening

  • Games like tug of war
  • Resistance exercises using body weight, handheld weights, resistance bands, or weight machines
  • Some types of yoga

Bone strengthening

  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Hiking
  • Sports or activities that involve jumping or quickly changing directions
Where do I start?
If you haven't been active in a while, start slowly and build up. Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
Choose activities that you enjoy. What you do is not as important as making sure you are doing something!
Do a variety of activities - doing it can prevent boredom and targets different types of fitness.
Any physical activity is better than none - a good way to increase your activity is to focus on sitting less and moving more throughout your day.
Set goals - setting goals using a fitness tracker of application on your phone can help keep you motivated as you track your progress.
A unique challenge to being physically active in cancer survivors can be cancer-related fatigue (CRF).

Where do I start?

  • If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up
  • Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level
  • Choose activities that you enjoy – what you do is not as important as making sure you are doing something!
  • Do a variety of activities – doing different types of activity can prevent boredom and targets different types of fitness
  • Any physical activity is better than none – a good way to increase your activity is to focus on sitting less and moving more throughout your day
  • Set goals – setting goals using a fitness tracker or application on your phone can help keep you motivated as you track your progress
  • A unique challenge to being physically active in cancer survivors can be cancer-related fatigue (CRF)
    • CRF is a persistent feeling of tiredness or exhaustion that interferes with your everyday activities
    • Exercise and energy conservation strategies are two of the best ways to fight CRF

Exercise

  • Start with lower-intensity exercise and work up to moderate intensity
  • Start with 3 days/week, slowly increasing to 5 days/week
  • Begin with 15 minutes of activity and slowly increase up to 30 minutes
  • Focus on aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities
  • Spread your exercise throughout the day if needed. For example, perform 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a day to reach your 30- minute goal.

Energy Conservation

  • Energy conservation is purposefully planning the energy stores you have to prevent emptying them and becoming exhausted
  • How to conserve your energy:
    • Plan your day and prioritize activities that you enjoy
    • Alternate activities that take lots of energy with those that take less
    • Stop to rest before you get tired
    • Sit to do activities when possible
    • Allow yourself a daytime nap if necessary
    • Distraction, such as music or reading, can help manage feelings of exhaustion


Reviewed: August 2020