Not Exercising? What's Your Excuse?
That teenage girls don't like to exercise is hardly big news. No matter how many times you're told how important physical activity is for good health and overall fitness, the number of girls who remain inactive is astounding. Maybe it's because we associate exercise with the games we were all forced to play in elementary school...hopscotch, jump rope, kickball and (worst of all) dodge ball. Or maybe there are other factors at work.
If we asked you why you don't exercise more, what would you say? Is it that you have no time? Or you're too tired? Or you don't like to sweat and mess up your hair? Is it too hard to make the school team? Are you afraid of developing big muscles? Or would you just rather go shopping?
In one more attempt to motivate you to incorporate more exercise into your lives, see how many of the following statements you think are true.
1. A recent study found that many girls, ages 11–17 said they don't play sports because they get tired of being involved in specific sports or physical activities.
2. Researchers have found that adolescent girls are gaining weight because they are consuming more calories.
3. Girls form 40% of their bone mass during adolescence. Calcium has the strongest effect on growing bones during those years.
4. How much she weighs determines how most girls feel when they look in the mirror.
5. Teenage girls have never liked to exercise. Not much has changed through the years.
6. Exercise might develop greater muscle strength and stamina, but as far as mood is concerned, it's all about hormones.
Would you be surprised to learn that every statement above is false?
1. That study found sadly that girls say they don't play sports because they don't feel skilled or competent enough, and they are embarrassed that their bodies don't look good in exercise clothes.
2. What researchers found was that it was the steep decline in physical activity during the teenage years, not a sudden increase in calories that was largely responsible for the weight gain commonly seen among adolescent girls.
3. Exercise, not calcium, may have the strongest effect on growing bones. The more a teen girl participated in sports, the stronger her bones were, no matter how much milk she drank.
4. Girls who are physically active are more satisfied with how they look and how much they weigh, regardless of their actual weight.
5. The American College of Sports Medicine found there is an 83% decrease in the amount of activity in girls 16–19! These girls had plenty of sleep and just as much free time as those kids who found enough time to exercise.
6. Aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging, swimming and most sports, increases the flow of oxygen to the brain as well as the heart, so you think clearer and faster. Exercise increases the brain's production of endorphins, the anti-stress hormones that not only relieve pain naturally, but help make you calm and happy. This improved mood might be why people who exercise regularly eat less junk food!
So take the stairs. Stretch while standing in line. Walk wherever you can. Hide the remote control. For your body and your mind, your mood and your confidence, today and in the future, upgrade your activities and schedule some exercise into your life!