Want to get fit but don’t know where to start? Teens have unique issues when it comes to getting fit and staying active. But there is no more perfect time than to start an exercise routine when you are still in your teens. Starting now will create habits that will keep you healthy for a lifetime.


No Couch Potatoes, Please: Watching TV? Surfing and Chatting? Are you accompanied by a bag of chips? Watch out! Sitting and vegging occasionally is great – – but for many hours a day, it’s no good. Ditto for the chips – a few are cool. A bag – NOT. Get some fresh air and some non-virtual exercise. And an apple wouldn’t kill you either. Find a Sport You Love: …and stick with it. Shooting hoops, running, kick-boxing – anything that you enjoy that makes you move your muscles. Not only will this favorite activity keep you in shape, it will also keep you friends with your body. When you see how much your bod does for you, you may appreciate your muscular legs. Super models don’t play football or field hockey. Healthy people do.

A Few Good Meals: DO NOT STARVE. It’s simple. If you deprive your body of food, it will eventually deprive you of proper function. You should not be consuming entire boxes of cookies, either. But there is a happy medium – well-balanced, healthy meals that fit your eating style. Do you prefer five or so small meals – an apple and a yogurt, or a salad with some bread – to three big ones? That’s fine, too. But you need to get enough carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, meat or fish or poultry, and dairy products – all of them, every day. If you are not sure about what’s right for you, consult a nutritionist. They love talking about this stuff. (It’s more than a job for most of them…)

Don’t be embarassed. So what if you can’t run a mile? Who cares if you can only do “girly push-ups”? Don’t worry if your fat jiggles when you walk! Everybody has to start somewhere and nobody starts out as an elite athlete. So many people don’t start exercising because they are too embarrassed. I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, I’ll join a gym after I lose 20 lbs.” This is ridiculous! Get over yourself and just get moving.

Start small. Nobody expects you to run 10 miles or bench-press 200lbs on your first day. You need to work up to these things. In fact, if you do too much too quickly you’re likely to either burn out or seriously injure yourself. Walking is good.

Do both cardio and weights. Many teens do one or the other, but for faster results, you should do both cardio and weight training. Don’t worry girls…you won’t bulk up like a body builder. You will simply be healthy and strong.

Muscles need time to repair. You should not exercise the same group of muscles two days in a row…this includes abs! Your muscles need time to repair and grow stronger. Give them a break.

Find a buddy. Things are easier when you’ve got someone to help you along the way. Team up with a friend and exercise together. Even if you can’t exercise together, you can still motivate each other. Can’t find anyone to work out with you? How about the family dog? I’m sure he’d love to go for a walk with you.