Physical activity is good for teenagers' health - now and for their future health. To understand the risks posed by a lack of physical activity, there is a need to understand how physical activity actually benefits teenagers.
The benefits of physical activity in teenagers include promoting healthy growth and development and developing good health and fitness by:
- Building strong and healthy bones and muscles ('musculoskeletal health');
- Having a healthier heart, lungs and arteries ('cardiorespiratory fitness' and 'cardiometabolic health');
- Improving coordination, movement skills, balance, posture and flexibility;
- Reducing the risk of unhealthy weight gain, becoming overweight or obese (improving 'body composition'); and
- Reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes later in life.
Physical activity is also beneficial to other aspects of a teenager's mental, intellectual, social and emotional health and wellbeing. For example, active teenagers are more likely to:
- Be confident and have enhanced self-esteem;
- Be happy and relaxed;
- Sleep well;
- Concentrate better at school;
- Better manage their stress levels;
- Get along with others and make friends easily;
- Share, take turns and cooperate;
- Feel like they belong;
- Enjoy additional opportunities for fun with friends;
- Display less anti-social behaviours such as aggressive and disruptive actions;
- Develop cooperation and teamwork skills; and
- Have lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Contemporary society unfortunately has created several common barriers preventing teenagers from engaging in daily physical activity.