Exercise has so many benefits. As well as keeping you fit and your lungs, heart, muscles and bones in good condition and boosting your immune system, it can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed so you can do well in other aspects of your life.
Even if you were active when you were younger, keeping it up during your teenage years can feel like a challenge. You might be self-conscious and not want to get changed in front of others in the school changing rooms, you might find PE lessons boring, there may be other things you’d rather be doing in your spare time. But maintaining an active lifestyle will help your body develop healthily – it will help you to stick to a healthy body weight and it will improve your coordination and movement control. Sticking to a healthy weight during adolescence reduces your risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and high blood pressure in adulthood. And exercise will help your body fight infection – active people tend to have stronger immune systems.
Exercise also releases mood-boosting chemicals (endorphins), enhances your thinking and learning skills and helps you get a good night’s sleep. Trying a new sport or joining a team can build up your self-confidence and playing games or sports with others helps to boost your self-esteem, builds friendships and can be really good fun. And exercising on your own can be hugely rewarding – setting goals, such as swimming for longer or running a greater distance, and achieving them will give you a great sense of satisfaction. If you have a disability, there are many sports organisations that have programmes for you.
Being active will also help you to:
- do better in school – research shows that girls who play sports progress further with their education. Exercise improves your memory and your concentration skills.
- learn teamwork skills – working with trainers and teammates to win matches and achieve your goals is great practice for the workplace. Learning to be a team player will teach you to work with others and solve problems. And if you’re part of a team, you’ll have more incentive to turn up if you know your teammates depend on you.
- build your self-confidence – being involved in sport helps you feel better about yourself, physically and mentally. It helps to build confidence when you see your skills improving and you achieve your goals. Getting fit, maintaining a healthy weight and making new friends all boost your self esteem.
- combat stress – playing sports can help you deal with pressure; exercise is a great way to relieve stress and fight depression. And when you are on a team, you have friends to support you.