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Five Fitness Tips Every Teen (and their Parents) Should Read

By Sarah Walls

There are a lot of good reasons for teens to engage in regular exercise and to stay fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that students who are physically active tend to have better grades, that higher physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance, and that those who participate in physical activities have fewer disciplinary problems. Add to that the fact that these students will be laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and creating great habits, and exercise turns out to be an excellent deal all around. Yet many teens and their parents have questions about fitness that may be holding them back.

“The benefits of being a fit teen are plentiful, but it’s important to also know how to help reduce injury risks and stay motivated over the long haul,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of Strength & Performance Training, Inc. (SAPT), who is also the strength and conditioning coach for The Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Washington Mystics. “Being fit and healthy is more than just exercising, so it’s a good idea to learn more about what you need to do to have all-around good health.”

Here are five fitness tips every teen should read:

  1. Eat brain food. This is the good stuff, the unprocessed whole foods that include things such as salads, poultry, lean meats, eggs, healthy fats, etc. Unprocessed foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients that will keep you mentally sharp and physically fit.
  2. Train to be successful. Going to the gym to work on your “abs” and “beach muscles” is usually done with endless sit-ups and biceps curls, but you can get the same effect by training to be more athletic and faster, and by building the confidence to reach your goals. With this kind of work you make your entire body stronger and you train yourself for success. You can work with a personal trainer to put together a routine that meets these needs and with goals that are tailored specifically for you.
  3. Go into “Do Not Disturb” mode. A big part of mental fitness is the ability to step away from constant phone calls, texts, Instagram feeds, and the like. Your mind will keep you feeling better when you steer clear of those distractions more often. Take some time to go for a walk or spend time playing with your dog, as these kinds of things are good for your body and your mind.
  4. Appreciate that nothing happens overnight. When embarking on a fitness routine, it helps to celebrate the little victories that come with even the smallest daily improvements. Yes, you may want to get a big bench press or increase your vertical jump by several inches. Both are worthy pursuits, but both also take time and dedication. Learn to love the small changes and watch how they lead to reaching big goals.
  5. Beware of the changes. Fitness has changed a lot in 20 years, so be careful whose advice you take. There are plenty of well-meaning coaches and parents who dole out advice that is, at best, antiquated and, at worst, downright dangerous. Listen to your body, ask questions, and seek out expert advice when you need it!

“The teen years are a great time to work on fitness and to lay the foundation for a healthy body and future,” added Coach Walls. “The more you know about what it takes, the less you are looking for an overnight fix. Getting fit, whether you are a teen or a senior citizen, takes time, patience, and dedication. But it’s worth it!”

Sarah Walls has over 15 years experience in coaching and personal training. Owner of Strength & Performance Training, Inc. (SAPT), founded in 2007, she offers coaching to develop athletes, adult programs, team training, online coaching, and more. She is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and has over eight years of experience working as a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer. To learn more, visit the site:

Strength & Performance Training, Inc. (SAPT)

Located in Fairfax, Virginia, Strength & Performance Training, Inc. (SAPT) is a high-performance training club that specializes in helping to develop athletes of all ages. They offer athletic training programs for youth, college students, and amateurs. The company was founded in 2007 by Sarah Walls, a professional strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer.

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