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Helping our kids and teens manage stress… with exercise!

May 11, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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Exercise can help us beat the blues and manage stress at any age – and children and teens are no exception. In fact, in helping our kids discover this for themselves we’re arming them with a coping strategy they can use throughout life.

When I’m stressed, worried, or having an “off” day, I make a point of moving my daily workout to the very top of my to-do list, and happily, both of my daughters, now ages 13 and 16, have discovered that exercise can do great things for our physical, mental, and emotional health.

It won’t be long before my eldest daughter is off to university –she’s at an age and stage that sometimes leaves her feeling a little overwhelmed. Happily, she’s discovered that a workout on our elliptical, a run with friends, an hour of dance, or a weight-training session, can ease her stress and help her keep everything in perspective. My younger daughter hops on her skateboard, hits balls with me at our community tennis club, or will use our elliptical trainer– not always because she wants to, but because she knows it will do her good.

My friend, Toronto-based pediatrician, Dr. Dina Kulik, agrees. Exercise can do wonders for our children — helping them manage stress, and feel in control of their emotional and mental health.

  1. Exercise improves focus, concentration and memory
  2. Physical activity and active play prompt the release of feel-good endorphins that can decrease stress and lead to increased happiness
  3. Those who exercise regularly have better self-confidence, a powerful thing in adolescence when many are sensitive about their changing bodies or easily overwhelmed by change or multiple priorities and responsibilities
  4. Exercise improves sleep quality – something many teens (often due to too much screen time) struggle to achieve.

Exercise is a powerful tool… no wonder so many doctors (like Dr. Kulik) are prescribing it.