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Old 03-24-2013, 12:23 PM   #1
SuperHappyFunTimes
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Advice needed to get young teen active

My 13 year old son is an awesome, kind, smart kid. School comes easy to him, even advanced classes. He does his school work, but he doesn't have to work hard to get good grades. That's great, but I feel like he needs to learn to work through challenges and get active and I'm having trouble with it.

We tried two years of soccer, then two years of swimming, then three years of karate. He pretty much hated all of it. We've asked him if there was any sport at all he wanted to try and he says no. Because he's in advanced classes at school, he's exempted from PE. I know that despite how great he is at school, he has to get active to stay healthy. We've suggested lots of activities, taken him hiking in the Grand Canyon and North Carolina and no matter what we try, he's never gotten that spark of pride and joy that his dad and I get from being active...

I decided to try running with him, thinking that an individual sport might be the key. So, I signed us all up for the Expedition Everest 5k in May, thinking that would maybe inspire him to get into running. Every training run we've done so far has been like pulling teeth. He just hates pushing himself and getting out of the "easy zone" and doesn't seem to enjoy being active, no matter what we try.

Anyone going through the same thing or have any advice for how to get a non-active kid to enjoy being active?
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:23 PM   #2
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Growing up, my dad was very active. He's a PT specialized in running injuries, we own a running store, heads up a very active running club, and is a marathoner/ironman athlete himself.

I was very similar to your son in a way - school was very important to me. My dad tried so hard to get me into swimming/biking/running, and it was like pulling teeth. I suffered through a 5K or to...but I really hated it.

Eventually my dad left me alone to do my thing. I went to college - and at first I ate all the fast food I could get my hands on (and alcohol...but hey, I was a college kid!). I have a naturally small build, but I still started to pack on the lbs a bit. I finally started to figure it out on my own, and made a better effort to watch my diet, and start to work out at the gym. I eventually started to run, and now years later, I'm a marathoner and triathlete myself!

I would keep setting good examples to him, and encourage him, but not force the activity on him. The memories he has of you accomplishing these awesome events will stay with him much longer than either of you probably realize now, and he will come around...but on his own terms. Expose him to the activity, but don't force or push too hard imo. Good luck!
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Old 03-26-2013, 10:16 PM   #3
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I agree with fashionista311, he may eventually come around. I am not a parent, but I am speaking as someone who was not athletic as a child or teenager. Some people just don't have the inclination, but as I've entered adulthood I'm realizing that it's good for any person to be active, not just the athletically inclined. I look back and regret not being more active because I know it has made it harder for me to be naturally active as an adult as well as maintain a healthier weight.

My suggestion would be to look around and explore different possibilities, try to find out what activity might spark his interest. I joined a tennis team in middle school and didn't enjoy it but years later realized I enjoyed racket ball a lot more!! I have no idea what your teen would be interested in, but there are lots of things out there. Water sports, bike-riding, and if he likes the outdoors it would even be at least some activity to help out with yard work or gardening. There's something out there for everyone. I don't know how you feel about video games, but even Dance Dance Revolution or Wii Fit is better than no physical activity. Good luck!
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice. He does have the type of personality where if you push him, he digs his heels in and resists even harder, so I probably need to let up a little.

He's really into computer game design, so we negotiated a trade off of 15 minutes of computer time for each mile he goes, with a bonus of 15 minutes if he has a good attitude. That seemed to help a lot on the last run. I also let him negotiate how far we'd go and what kind of run/walk intervals to do. We ended up going 3 miles a full minute faster than the last time with no complaining.

Hopefully he enjoys the Expedition Everest 5k, but if he hates it, I'll let up on running and see if we can explore something else with him. Thanks again!
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:19 PM   #5
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My 12 yo is the same, he hates any kind of physical activity. Definitely individual works better for him than team stuff, he just doesn't have the skill to do team and it makes him feel worse. Sounds like you are hitting the right reward-vs-effort balance. We use rewards here too, and often if we get him to build a habit through rewards, it becomes easier to maintain.

My big success right now? A puppy. Both my kids committed to walking her before she arrived. Right now he's doing 20 minutes a day after school (and on weekends), and that's the most voluntary effort he's done in years. The dog makes it not about his "exercise" but rather about his responsibility to the puppy, which he takes seriously. Just sayin' !
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:29 PM   #6
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Is there a gym in your area or some sort of athletic club? That way he has choices in the activities that he might like.

My sister is relatively active (did dance and baseball) but this last year decided to stop and was getting to that. We joined the YMCA in our area and she really liked choosing the activities that appealed to her interest - swimming, synchro and a hip hop club. They also have teen recreational sports, which are just for fun. They also have a teen "learn to use the gym" type thing and then the teens can use the gym equipment as well. Not sure if there is something like this in your area.

As a child I was really active with dance, softball, swimming, skating but when I got to my teen I really turned my focus to school (which was good but I do regret stopping these activities). Slowly but surely I am starting now, as an adult to increase my fitness level.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:18 PM   #7
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I'm with you! My older ds is 9, almost 10, and really prefers books to bikes. We like you have tried a lot. First was basketball, then gymnastics, now we are on to swimming (which he does seem to enjoy right now but they are short classes). I've also been doing the same as you and working out with him. I'm training for a 10k right now and am having him tag along to run/walk when the weather cooperates.

We have a very large oval around the park behind our house, its about 1/3rd of a mile, so I go at my pace and he goes at his. I don't push him if he is walking instead of running but I do have him count his laps so he can see his progress.

Also, my ds loves music so he enjoys the work outs way more with his ipod. His motivation is that I agreed to buy him one new MP3 after each work out.

I agree w/ the PPs. I would keep leading by example and use gentle encouragement.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:48 AM   #8
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You said your son likes gaming, does he like strategy games?
Everest uses strategy to solve the clues in the scavenger hunt part. DS16 and I ran 2 years ago and he's a runner and a gamer. He was really good at solving the clues and mapping out where we needed to go next. To get your DS excited about the race maybe get him a map of AK and have him study it, to get a layout of the park and google some of the previous races questions.

Also if he likes shoot em up strategy games like Assassins Creed or Call Of Duty, look into paint ball and laser tag in your area. All my boys and DH love paint ball, especially outdoor. It's a great workout but doesn't feel like one. Maybe he just needs something more activity based and less exercise based.

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Old 03-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #9
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Great advice everyone, thanks. It's also nice to know I'm not alone.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:40 AM   #10
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I would suggest fencing. It is like a quick game of athletic chess. My daughter does epee and my son likes sabre. They really like the mental challenge/game aspect of it.

Most clubs will allow a beginner to try a class, and provide the equipment. Typically a 10 week beginner's course is a couple hundred but you should not need to buy anything until they get serious about it. There will be bruising but it doesn't seem to bother them. It is also a very social sport with a huge range of ages.
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:30 PM   #11
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Does he have an access to a smart phone or similar device? There's a great app called "Zombies, run!" and there's a 5k training version of it as well. It plays through a story of post zombie apocalypse and you're sent on missions. Zombies can chase you as well! It's a fun app and you don't think about exercising!!
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:07 PM   #12
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My son was your son in 8th grade, he loved football but we homeschool and were not allowed to play after that age without the Tim Tebow bill passing (still hasn't passed in our state)...so he was upset about that and negative..he put on weight...was growing tall but his weight was more than it should have been...he grew to 6'2 at 15 but weighed 240...we found rowing, granted it's an hour from our house, but five days a week practice and many regattas later, he is an amazingly fit young man..he weighs 180 now and 80 pounds of that must be muscle..the kid has muscles where you wonder where they popped out!
People wonder how I can drive 10 hours a week to get him to and from rowing, if they knew the 13 year old with low self esteem and a desire to 'belong' to something...they would know I'd drive 20 hours each week to get him there...it's been a wonderful experience and he has a decent shot at scholarship....top rower and earning many first and 2nd placements...worth a look!
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperHappyFunTimes View Post
My 13 year old son is an awesome, kind, smart kid. School comes easy to him, even advanced classes. He does his school work, but he doesn't have to work hard to get good grades. That's great, but I feel like he needs to learn to work through challenges and get active and I'm having trouble with it.

We tried two years of soccer, then two years of swimming, then three years of karate. He pretty much hated all of it. We've asked him if there was any sport at all he wanted to try and he says no. Because he's in advanced classes at school, he's exempted from PE. I know that despite how great he is at school, he has to get active to stay healthy. We've suggested lots of activities, taken him hiking in the Grand Canyon and North Carolina and no matter what we try, he's never gotten that spark of pride and joy that his dad and I get from being active...

I decided to try running with him, thinking that an individual sport might be the key. So, I signed us all up for the Expedition Everest 5k in May, thinking that would maybe inspire him to get into running. Every training run we've done so far has been like pulling teeth. He just hates pushing himself and getting out of the "easy zone" and doesn't seem to enjoy being active, no matter what we try.

Anyone going through the same thing or have any advice for how to get a non-active kid to enjoy being active?
i dont think u can change someones personality............. my oldest 17 is like that........... he tried a few sports so not him............. hes a great student all honors.... did track for 2 years in HS really wasnt his thing.............. He works about 20 hours a week at a job he loves............ and he got a full academic scholarship to the univeristy in our town............ he loves music and play guitar ......... He is just NOT an outside perosn and the more we tried pushing him out the more he stayed in...................
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:47 AM   #14
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i dont think u can change someones personality............. my oldest 17 is like that........... he tried a few sports so not him............. hes a great student all honors.... did track for 2 years in HS really wasnt his thing.............. He works about 20 hours a week at a job he loves............ and he got a full academic scholarship to the univeristy in our town............ he loves music and play guitar ......... He is just NOT an outside perosn and the more we tried pushing him out the more he stayed in...................
but he does play airsoft at an indoor arena ......so does that count as activity???lol
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before 1988 didn't keep track- must have been over 20 times to disney- went every year with family

Here we go again!!!!
starting weight
Jan 1 2013 194.8lbs Height 5'9" BMI 28.8

Jan 1 2014 187.4 BMI 27.7Goal 150[/COLOR][/FONT]
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardandMissBianca View Post
You said your son likes gaming, does he like strategy games?
Everest uses strategy to solve the clues in the scavenger hunt part. DS16 and I ran 2 years ago and he's a runner and a gamer. He was really good at solving the clues and mapping out where we needed to go next. To get your DS excited about the race maybe get him a map of AK and have him study it, to get a layout of the park and google some of the previous races questions.

Also if he likes shoot em up strategy games like Assassins Creed or Call Of Duty, look into paint ball and laser tag in your area. All my boys and DH love paint ball, especially outdoor. It's a great workout but doesn't feel like one. Maybe he just needs something more activity based and less exercise based.

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What she said!

Honestly, I was going to come on and suggest paintball... or ANYTHING that doesn't feel like a "sport". I also have an inactive 15 year old DS and as much as I "disagree" with paintball, I let him try it last year and he LOVED IT and can't wait for the season to start this year! He spends a day outside in the fresh air and sunshine, learns to work with others (strangers and friends) runs around like a crazy guy, takes personal responsibility for himself and his belongings and equipment, gets dirty and sweaty and exhausted. Can't ask for more than that for a FUN weekend for a boy, right??

My DS would also like to try indoor skydiving, but I've held on off that due to the cost. I realize that wouldn't be a regular weekly activity, but it would still be an opportunity to be active.

How about making the activity more of an adventure? Geo-caching is popular and can involve a lot of hiking/walking (haven't read everything so I am not sure if this has been suggested yet).

How about putting different activities on slips of paper and having him pick a slip from a cup? Or offer a list of 3-5 activites and whichever one he picks sign him up for ONE session. If he hates it, at least he has tried something new and there is a limited time to do it (our Y has sessions that last about 6-8 weeks). Think a little outside the box of normal cardio type activites and look into things like archery or fencing (DS has expressed interest in both of these).

Hope you can find an activity that your DS will fall in love with...............P
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