Keeping fit isn't just about your physical health. It also supports your mental health. Exercise can help you:
- Work through stress
- Forget about worries
- Build confidence
- Feel strong and capable
- Get better discipline and determination
These are all things that help with every part of your life, not just when you are exercising.
The effect on your health is also important. One in three children aged 12-15 are either overweight or obese (really overweight), and this means that they are at risk of developing health conditions that can make them feel bad, develop serious problems like diabetes and heart disease and even have shorter lives. This is worrying, but you can easily help yourself just by getting enough exercise, and eating healthily.
Exercise is for everyone. Even if you're not sporty, aren't interested in playing sports or hate being active there is still exercise that will suit you. Any exercise will help keep you fitness levels good, your weight healthy, and most importantly, make you feel really good.
Take action: Visit Activities Oxfordshire to find out about activities in your area, get motivational support, find courses, classes and more!
How much exercise is enough?
Health guidance for children and young people is that you should get at least an hour of exercise each day. This should be vigorous enough to make make you breathe faster, feel hot and get at least a bit out of breath. Twice a week (or more if possible) your exercise should be things that make your bones and muscles stronger and more flexible, like running, yoga, keep fit classes or other activities where you are on your feet, rather than swimming, or riding a bike.
- 1 hour of exercise a day - aim to get out of breath
- 3 days a week, do exercise to strengthen muscles and bones
If you need to sit down for a long time for your job or to study, then you should break this time up with short bits of exercise, every hour or so. It doesn't have to be anything very strenuous, even getting up and walking around helps.
Take Action: You don't have to get sporty to get fit. Did you know that walking briskly for just 10 continuous minutes counts as exercise? Download the Active 10 app and walk your way to health!
For many young people, these recommendations are not a problem because they are always running around at school or at home, kicking a football with friends, cycling or walking to or from school, swimming and doing other stuff.
But for other children being active is not as interesting, or they might have other reasons. like being embarrassed or being worried about not being good enough. None of this should stop you from being active and doing the sports you are interested in. If you are feeling anxious, this might help:
- Nobody starts out as an expert - and everyone can get better over time
- Get the right clothes or equipment - it makes a real difference
- Take advantage of help on offer, like classes, coaches or personal trainers, they can help you build your skills
- Don't be embarrassed, you have as much right to be there as anyone else
For some people starting in a small class or even at home can make all the difference. There are lots of exercises you can do at home, using videos, for free, as well as small classes and taster sessions that help you try out different things.
Why not have a go at being more active now with this Change 4 Life dance video?
But what if ...
I’m the only one in my family that does any exercise? This does not matter. Being active is important for you – and your parents, brothers and sisters and others also need to get moving, so why not set them an example?
I get big muscles? This is something girls and boys might worry about, because they don't want to look big, bulky or too sporty. But unless you’re doing really specific exercises designed to bulk muscle (usually particular kinds of weight lifting) you will build lean muscles that make you look fit, not big.
I don’t have time? Build exercise into your normal daytime routine: walk or cycle to school, play a team game with friends at lunchtime, stretch or do circuit training in front of your favourite TV programme.
I’m not sporty? If you're not sporty, don't do sports. Fast walking, dancing, running, ice skating, hill walking, skating, conservation volunteering, and horse riding are all ways to get active and still avoid sports.
I’m too embarrassed? Go along to clubs with friends or family, or join in a small group activity. The teacher will make you feel welcome and you might even make some new friends!
I get bored? Listen to music or watch videos on your phone, or go with a buddy. Having someone you go to the gym with regularly makes it more fun and encourages you both to push yourselves.
I get hurt or injured? Being fit will make it easier for you to recover from injuries in the long term, but when you're starting out, take it easy, build up gradually, go for non-contact sports and don’t over do it!
My opinion: The main reason I play football so much is that you're having fun and not even realizing you're doing yourself a massive favour in keeping fit! But, there is actually a lot more to football than playing it. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world so it is therefore hot in the media, especially television. Watching football on TV in the form of Match Of The Day is almost religion for me every weekend keeping up to date with The Premier League. Also, a big aspect of football is who you support. I support Oxford United and go to a few of their games as well. If you are thinking about playing football in some shape or form, you wont have to look far as you will find opportunities almost everywhere for your skill level and age group. To find some go to Activities Oxfordshire. - James Gild, 14
Why it’s so good for you
Exercise is so great for you because it:
- Makes the heart stronger and lungs healthier
- Strengthens bones, tones up muscles, improves flexibility
- Releases ‘feel good’ chemicals (endorphins) in your brain so you feel happier and less stressed.
Combined with healthy eating, it can also make you feel more energetic and fit, and help you find the energy to do your work and study.
In fact, there’s no good reason NOT to do it!
My opinion: Children and young people should do exercise because it helps achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. You can read more information about this on the ACE website. You can read about facts why children need to do exercise. Obesity has in increased from the ages 6-19 by 15%, almost quadruple what it was in the late 1960s. In my opinion I think that children should do exercise because if they do not, all the kids will get obese and that will make them non-healthy, and it would also decrease self-esteem for all the children. - Murat, Oxford 15