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Un père et son enfant jouent au basketball

Physical activity

Un père et son enfant jouent au basketball

Physical activity

To better understand

When we talk about physical activity in teens, we often think about games, competitions and tournaments. But did you know that the benefits movement has on teens can be observed well before the physical activity reaches a competitive level?

Physical activity is known to have a positive impact on:

  • Physical condition (cardiorespiratory capacity, muscular endurance, flexibility, motor capacity)
  • Physical health (bone health, cardiovascular health)
  • Psychosocial health (mood, self-esteem)
  • Reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Attention span
  • Ability to concentrate
  • A feeling of belonging at school


In short, for teens, being active pays off, and not just health-wise!


Physical activity has also been associated with an improvement in teens’ academic perseverance and academic success. Participating in a sport also improves their social skills (managing emotions, communication, etc.)


By encouraging your teen to participate in physical activities, you’re giving them a gift for life! Most active teens will maintain the good lifestyle habits they learned while participating in physical activities into their adult life. So, how can you get your teen to be more active? First and foremost, have fun! Whether your teen simply likes doing the physical activity itself or the fun of doing the activity with their friends, enjoyment is the key to motivation.


Next, to be motivated to be regularly active, your teen needs to feel that they’re good at the activity. In other words, they need confidence in their ability to do the sports activity and see themselves as competent.


Your teen also needs to see the benefits of participating in a physical activity, for example, enlarging their circle of friends or learning to push their limits.


Lastly, parents also play an important role in getting their teen to be active more regularly. Don’t underestimate the influence you have on your child: that influence is still there even when they become a teen!

Did you know that…

At adolescence, only 37 % of boys and 24 % of girls get enough physical activity. Teens who move 60 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity are considered active. That’s the goal you’re aiming for! However, every active minute contributes to your teen’s health.

What is considered moderate- to high-intensity physical activity? Any activity that increases heart and breathing rates sufficiently or significantly. If you find it hard to say a few words while exercising, that’s an indication that you’re at a good intensity.

Want to learn more?

Check out our information sheets for more statistics, key facts and solutions for families, at schools and in the communities.

To better support


    • Talk to your teen about what kinds of sports and physical activities they like and are interested in doing.
    • Let them know how proud you are about the effort they’re making, regardless of how well they do.
    • Avoid focusing on mistakes or failures.  Replace the classic question “Did you win?” with:
      • Did you have a good time?
      • How did it go?
      • What went well?


  • Encourage your teen to walk or bike to get around whenever possible.
  • Guide your teen towards choosing active leisure activities.
  • Don’t take away or cancel physical activities as a punishment.


  • Encourage your teen to participate in physical activities they like and that interest them.
  • Attend training sessions and competitions with your child or offer to give them a lift.

At home

  • Be an active family: plan sports activities that your teen can do for the rest of their life (swimming, skating, skiing, biking, etc.).
  • Create space to move in and around your home.
  • Provide sports equipment so your teen can be active.

Tips and tricks

  • To encourage your teen to participate in family activities, let them help plan and choose the activities.
  • While parents are encouraged to be active as well, you don’t have to be an athlete to be a good example. Going to practices and competitions with your teen shows them that you support them and are interested in their activities.
  • One of the best ways to help your teen feel more competent is to give them an opportunity to identify their strengths. This will help them develop their confidence and use their strengths when faced with challenges. You can:
    • Point out any excellent accomplishments. For example: Your vision of the game in the defensive zone prevented several goals, fantastic!
    • Identify a strength your child can use to deal with the situation or help things go better the next time. For example: You’re very good at passing. How could you use your skills better at the next game?

In brief

  • Most teens don’t reach the recommended level of physical activity. That means they’re missing out on the many benefits physical activity could give them.
  • Be more active! That’s the main message to give teens, because the payoff will come in the form of better physical and mental health, better social networks and improved academic perseverance.
  • The pleasure they get from practising a sport can be a powerful motivator.
  • It is important that teens’ parents support them to increase their level of physical activity and their participation in sports.

Resources and practical tools

1. For support:

If you are concerned about a situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members

2. To learn more:

Following are some tools to help you learn more about what physical and sports activities your teen can participate in:

Last update: May 2022

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