Teens need 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity every day. Activity does not have to be all at one time; teens should be active throughout the day. Active teens:

  • Do better in school
  • Sleep better at night
  • Reach a healthy weight
  • Feel better about themselves
  • Get along with friends
  • Grow strong bones and muscles
  • Have more confidence to play sports and take part in gym class

Teens are busy going to school, hanging out with friends, watching TV, and using their computers and cell phones. These activities usually become more important than physical activity in a teen's life. Help your teen make time for physical activity.

What counts as physical activity?

There are three types of physical activity that are important for teens:

Aerobic activities make you sweat and breathe harder. They include:

  • Running or walking quickly (power walking)
  • Dancing
  • House work, like sweeping the floors
  • Yard work and gardening
  • Games like flag football, soccer, catch, and basketball
  • Riding a bike
  • Cheerleading and gymnastics
  • Skateboarding
  • Martial arts like karate

Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. They include:

  • Push-ups and sit-ups
  • Games like tug-of-war
  • Resistance exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, or hand-held weights
  • Cheerleading and gymnastics
  • Rock climbing

Bone-strengthening activities make your bones stronger. They include:

  • Running or walking quickly (power-walking)
  • Dancing
  • Weight lifting
  • Hiking
  • Sports like basketball, gymnastics, and tennis

Is my teen doing enough physical activity?

Teens need 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity every day. Teens don't have to do it all at once - they can spread it throughout the day, as long as they're active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

To get the most health benefits from physical activity, teens need:

  • 60 minutes of aerobic activity every day that makes them sweat and breathe heavy
  • 5 to 10 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity at least 3 days a week
  • 5 to 10 minutes of bone-strengthening activity at least 3 days a week

How can I help my teen be physically active?

  • Give your teen plenty of chances to be active
    Teens need parents to make activity easy by taking them to parks, gyms, and other active spots. Find parks in your area.
  • Set up a schedule for activity and make it a part of everyday life
    Use this daily activity schedule to help you get started.
  • Be a role model
    Participate in activities with your teen and make sure you are being active on your own. Learn how to be an active parent on our Move More page.
  • Practice a skill
    Practicing a skill, whether it's scoring a goal or learning a new dance, can make teens want to continue the activity.
  • Don't be a couch potato
    Unless your teen is sleeping or resting, help your teen stay active throughout the day. Limit your teen's time spent watching TV and playing video or computer games to 2 hours a day. (Reading books is okay!)

How do I keep my teen safe during physical activity?

Provide and set expectations about using safety equipment

Many teens resist rules about safety equipment set by their parents. Be firm, and let your teen know that accidents can happen at any time or place. Find out what equipment your teen needs to participate in an activity.

What if my teen has a physical disability?

It is important for teens of all abilities to be active every day. Check with your doctor for advice and visit the National Center for Physical Activity and Disability's Program Directory for more information.


This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.