Adolescence is the most important time to begin an exercise routine. Exercise strengthens bones and muscles, improves stamina, helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes self-confidence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends teens get at least an hour of physical activity per day. Time spent at home hanging out with family or watching TV is a great time for teen girls to fit in exercise. With little to no equipment, teen girls can break a sweat, build muscle and have fun all at the same time.
Most teen girls love music — the louder, the better. Dancing fast to her favorite songs, a girl can really break a sweat. Dancing is also a weight-bearing activity that strengthens muscles and bones. Instead of freestyling it, teen girls can find a dance class, Zumba class or aerobics class on the Internet, often free of charge.
Ballet exercises are also an option to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. A few moves girls can try:
First position plié squats: Stand with heels together and toes pointed out. Bend the knees and lower down, keeping the pelvis tucked. Gracefully lift both arms above the head. Rise back up to standing and lower the arms. Repeat 20 times.
Arabesque squat: Stand on your left leg, holding a chair with your left hand for support. Extend the right leg and arm in opposite directions, almost parallel with the ground. Squat down into your standing leg and stand back up. Do 15 repetitions, then switch sides.
Relevés: Stand with your feet about hip-distance apart. Turn your toes out and bend your knees coming down into a squat. Keep your pelvis tucked. Straighten your legs to come up and rise onto your toes. Bring your arms gracefully above your head. Lower down to your starting position and repeat 20 times total.
Short bursts of exercise are just as good as longer sweat sessions. With the number of commercials on prime time TV, commercial breaks are a perfect time to get up and get moving.
Make it a family affair. At every programming break, get up and do some sort of intense exercise. Fast jumping jacks and running in place are great options, or try one of these:
Burpees: Squat down placing your hands on the floor. Jump your feet back and do a pushup. Jump your feet forward and stand up jumping in to the air. Land with bent knees and repeat.
Jump squats: Squat down, then explode up into the air. Land with bent knees and repeat.
High knees: March in place, lifting your knees as high as you can. Speed up your march so that you're feet are just lightly touching down -- more like hopping in place.
Tabata is a fun, challenging and quick way for teen girls to build cardiovascular endurance and muscle. Named for the Japanese scientist who invented it, Tabata training involves 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds. For one exercise, this is a total of 4 minutes of work. Routines typically include several exercises.
A sample workout might look like this:
- Jump squats (4 minutes)
- Push-ups (4 minutes)
- Burpees (4 minutes)
- Mountain climbers (4 minutes)
Download a Tabata timer app and put on some loud music.
Teen girls love to laugh and be silly, and animal movements are nothing short of hilarious. But these aren't just fun and games; they're real exercises that build total-body strength and flexibility. Almost any animal can be imitated with good results, but here are a few tried-and-true:
Crab walk: From a seated position, press up onto hands and feet. Keep the hips lifted and walk forward to one end of the room, then walk backward.
Bunny hops: From standing, cup your hands behind your ears to make bunny ears. Squat down low and take a big hop forward, landing with bent knees and going right into your next hop.
Lizard Slither: Get into push-up position. Step your right foot up close to your right hand. Bend the elbows and lower down to a push-up (come on to the left knee if necessary). Press back up, move the left hand all the way forward, push off the right foot to bring the right hand and foot forward and bring the left foot up close to the left hand. Do a push-up. Keep repeating this sequence across the room.
Get creative with animal walks and make them fun. What kind of noises do they make while they're walking? What other characteristics might they exhibit?