How to Motivate Teens To Stay Active

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My daughter recently turned 13 and everything is different. The things she liked before – collecting dolls, watching cartoons, playing with her younger brothers – have suddenly become too babyish. It seems that she has also outgrown her love of physical activity. Until recently, she loved to play sports. She participated in basketball and soccer leagues at the YMCA and UPWARDS. I’d spend countless hours helping her practice her skills in our driveway or in the backyard. Now, she’d rather sit in her room listening to music and texting her friends instead of exerting any physical activity.

Many parents face this same predicament with their teenagers. But there are ways to convince teenagers to play and be more active. Here are a few suggestions:

Participate in Activities They Like

If your teenager enjoys a particular physical activity, he/she will be more apt to do it regularly if you participate and give them encouragement. My daughter loves to swim. Although I’m not a good swimmer, I take her to the pool every Friday during the summer. Not only does she get a workout, but she also helps me to improve my swimming skills.

Take a Walk

After dinner, I like to take a walk with my kids individually to chat and catch up on their lives. The walks with my teenage daughter are special because I know she will be an adult soon and our opportunities to spend time together will decrease as she gets older. These walks give us a chance to connect and incorporate some physical activity into our day.

Introduce New Activities

My wife introduced our kids to kickball at an early age, and it is one of our family’s favorite games to play outdoors. We set up some bases in the cul-de-sac and have fun together as a family. I’m actually surprised that my daughter is still excited to play. But she really enjoys the game and looks forward to the times when we can play. In addition to kickball, I’ve introduced my daughter to one of my favorite activities – cycling. We like to ride our bikes through the neighborhood and sometimes we have races. She hasn’t beaten me yet, but is determined to do so. Keep introducing your teenager to different activities. Eventually, you will find something that he/she likes to do.

Get Them Involved with Helping Others

I coached a basketball team comprised of 5 and 6-year-olds and recruited my daughter as an assistant coach. I told her that the younger kids would benefit from her experience and knowledge. My daughter loves working with younger kids and she agreed to help. She was able to teach the kids some new skills while reconnecting with a game she used to love. Contrary to popular belief, teenagers are interested in volunteering and helping others. If you can combine volunteering with physical activity, your teenager will benefit emotionally and physically.

The key to getting your teen up off the couch and interested in being active is tailoring physical activity to their skills and interests. Physical activity not only builds confidence and self-esteem, but it also helps to develop life skills such as teamwork, responsibility and endurance.

You can learn more about the importance of play at and find some great teen play activities here. You can also join the conversation with Let’s Play on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Stay Strong,

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Join the conversation: How do you motivate your teens to stay active?

Disclosure: I am a ambassador for All opinions are my own.

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at