Six Reasons to Exercise Regularly with Your Teen

As we get ready to start another school year with our families, I want to share a personal and professional encouragement with you on something that can really revolutionize your family life: exercising regularly with your teen. My son started running on the cross country team at his school two years ago, and that became an inspired turning point in both our lives. He, his teammates, and his coaches have been such an inspiration to me, and running has now become a hugely important part of our lives. This picture was taken as my son and I approached the finish line on the 50 yard line of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge at the annual Tiger 10K/5K/1 Mile event – a terrific opportunity for anyone in our area every December. While we could probably compile a list of dozens of benefits of running together, I would like to share six of the most outstanding benefits with you today:

  1. Improved health for both of you. You don’t have to choose running. It could be swimming, weight lifting, yoga, martial arts, basketball, rollerblading, or anything else gets you moving together. Whatever you choose, regular exercise leads to countless physical health benefits, as well as mental and emotional health benefits. Simply put, you will both be better people for having a regular habit of strenuous exercise. Get out there and get moving at least once a week, and you will see and feel the positive difference. Get out there three or four times a week, and you will be amazed at the difference.
  2. Developing a shared life activity/interest together. Many parents and teens have a hard time finding things in common to discuss or experience together. Exercising together is a fantastic way to create a common bond. And when you having something in common that is really important to both of you, it helps open the door of communication and understanding even in other areas that seem unrelated.
  3. Great connection time. You never know what kind of truly significant conversations may arise when you share the powerful connection of exercising together with your teen. Both of you may be more likely to let your guard down during these times, and some great heart-to-heart talks are likely to spring from this kind of intentional, growth-oriented connection together.
  4. It’s a great opportunity to encourage and cheer for your teen. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of parents openly expressing our faith and pleasure in our teens’ growth and life endeavors. Whether they show it or not, our teens are deeply longing for us to share with them (and maybe even with others) how proud we are of them for who they are, and the strengths and character development we see in them. And when we are exercising together, it gives us frequent opportunities to cheer for them at the moments they need it most.
  5. It sets a great example for your teen. Maybe exercise and physical fitness are a struggle for you. Believe me, I get it. But what an incredible opportunity to set a powerful opportunity of courage, effort, and discipline in the face of difficult or intimidating circumstances! And aren’t those elements we all want to see growing in our kids as they head toward adulthood? Let your teen see you struggle. It will be good for both of you. Use it as a springboard to discuss how she/he can face the struggles and challenges in her/his own life. And I’ll bet your teen will be more likely to listen to what you have to say about this after watching you practice what you preach.
  6. You will both benefit from the accountability. By committing to weekly (or more frequent) physical activity together, you and your teen both gain the benefit of direct accountability for doing what you said you will do. This is a character quality that will make us better in countless areas of life – well beyond the space of your weekly racquetball game, or whatever.

I so hope you will take on this challenge and give it a go this school year, if you aren’t already doing so. And, please – let me hear about it! I am eager to hear your stories of success, connection, improved health, and family blessings!!!

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