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Seven Surprising Health Benefits of Exercise for Young People

Female practicing yoga, demonstrating the benefits of exercise for flexibility and mindfulness

As parents or mentors, we often hear about the importance of encouraging kids to maintain a regular exercise routine. However, do you know exactly why it's so vital? Indeed, the benefits of exercise go far beyond weight management or excelling in sports.

In this article, I'll delve into seven essential health benefits of regular exercise for young people, supported by credible studies and research. We'll see how physical activity can contribute to their overall development and well-being. So let's dive right in!

Regular Exercise Differs Between Children And Adults

When adults exercise, their routine is generally regimented. They work out in the gym with various equipment.

Younger people on the other hand have a different take on exercise. For them it means being physically active through playing. They can play tag, ride bikes, play soccer, and join a dance or gym class. When encouraged to be active and enjoy the outdoors, children build endurance, flexibility and strength.

Parents are now told to monitor the body mass index (BMI) or height to weight ratio of their children because of the growing threat of childhood obesity among children aged 6 to 19. Physical activity will help children lose weight or from becoming obese, as well as start them with healthy habits.

Also, doctors and fitness professionals have suggested numerous health benefits of exercise for young people. Here are some of them.

1. Helps Keep the Weight Down

Walking 4 miles each day for a week will burn 1,600 calories or 1/2 pound each week. Without a diet change, walking the same distance for 6 months will help you shed off 12 pounds.

Teens can easily include walking into their daily routine. One way is walking on the treadmill for 1 mile before going to school. They can repeat this again before dinner. Another approach is to walk around the track for one mile during their lunch period. Lastly, walking the dog for another mile after school can also contribute to their daily exercise. [1]

2. Relieves Stress and Helps Develop a Positive Mindset

Benefits of exercise isn't just about physical well-being! Exercise is a fantastic tool for mental health, too. Regular physical activity reduces stress hormones. It also lowers blood pressure, relaxes the blood vessels, and slows the heart rate.

What does this mean? Well, with less stress, you'll likely notice your child appears more relaxed and happier. They will also think better and quicker. That's because exercise prompts the brain to release endorphins, chemicals that act as natural mood lifters. [2]

3. Muscle Growth and Calorie Burning

One of the important benefits of exercise is that it makes muscles grow stronger. These stronger muscles ultimately burn off more calories. Muscle mass is active tissue and the more muscle mass a person has, the more calories will be burned, even if the person (male) fails to exercise in a day.

This is because males have more muscle mass so they can lose weight faster, while girls have to exercise daily to burn more calories. The youth can strengthen their muscles when they wrestle, do handstands, climb or do pull-ups, stomach crunches and push-ups. [3]

4. Boosts Immunity and Improves the Body's Natural Shield

Exercise gives our immune system a big boost to help reduce the chances of getting easily affected by the flu, colds and several viruses. It helps circulate the white blood cells and antibodies more rapidly, making the body quicker to detect and combat illnesses. [4]

A word of caution, though: balance is key. Over-exertion without ample rest can do more harm than good. Vary your exercise routine so you are not putting extra load on your child's body. Give it time to rest. This will improve their immune system and prevent them from having muscle and joint pain.

play football

5. Makes the Bones Stronger

Regular, weight-bearing exercises like jogging, dancing, or even walking, contribute to stronger bones. These activities stimulate bone formation, helping to prevent bone loss as children grow. Coupled with a balanced diet, exercise is a surefire way to keep bones healthy and strong. [5]

6. Improves Complexion

You might wonder how exercise benefits the skin – but it does!

Regular physical activity increases the blood flow, helping deliver nutrients to the skin. Oxygen delivery to the skin also improves with exercise. These effects have a detoxifying effect on the body, which boosts the production of collagen, making the skin glow. [4, 6]

This is especially true when the youth does aerobic exercises such as basketball, swimming, walking, running, jogging, soccer, bicycling or basketball.

7. Enhances Mood and Unleashes Happiness

The level of endorphins in the brain increases with exercise. The hormone is related with positive, happy feeling. With a higher endorphin level, the symptoms of moderate depression are reduced.

Regular exercise also boosts the levels of serotonin, another crucial neurotransmitter, in the brain. Serotonin helps maintain a sense of calm and happiness. [7]

Exercise for young people can include strengthening exercises, conditioning or endurance exercises, and range-of-motion or stretching exercises. The first one could be tai chi, yoga or dance. Swimming, aerobics, climbing the stairs, biking and walking are conditioning exercises.

Use free (handheld) weights, resistance bands or machines, wrist and ankle weights during strengthening exercise to make your muscles stronger. Also, drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to replenish the liquid lost through sweat.

Conclusion: A Lifelong Gift of Health

There you have it – seven compelling reasons why exercise is so beneficial for young people. It's more than a tool for physical fitness; it's a gift that contributes to their overall growth, mental health, and general well-being. By encouraging our young ones to embrace regular exercise, we're equipping them with healthy habits that they can carry into adulthood.

Making exercise an enjoyable part of their everyday routine might take some creativity, but the long-term benefits are certainly worth it. So why not use this information to guide your young ones into a more active, healthier lifestyle? It could be one of the best gifts you ever give them.


  1. Xu R, Huang QT, Chen YT, Wang PY. Effects and dose-response relationships of exercise intervention on weight loss in overweight and obese children: a meta-regression and system review. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2022 Sep 1;35(9):1117-31.
  2. Gu J. Physical activity and depression in adolescents: evidence from China family panel studies. Behavioral Sciences. 2022 Mar 8;12(3):71.
  3. Ito T, Sugiura H, Ito Y, Noritake K, Ochi N. Relationship between the skeletal muscle mass index and physical activity of Japanese children: A cross-sectional, observational study. PLoS One. 2021 May 26;16(5):e0251025.
  4. Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. Journal of sport and health science. 2019 May 1;8(3):201-17.
  5. Henriques-Neto D, Magalhães JP, Hetherington-Rauth M, Santos DA, Baptista F, Sardinha LB. Physical fitness and bone health in young athletes and nonathletes. Sports Health. 2020 Sep;12(5):441-8.
  6. Katzmarzyk PT, Malina RM, Song TM, Bouchard CL. Physical activity and health-related fitness in youth: a multivariate analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 1998 May 1;30(5):709-14.
  7. Basso JC, Suzuki WA. The effects of acute exercise on mood, cognition, neurophysiology, and neurochemical pathways: A review. Brain Plasticity. 2017 Jan 1;2(2):127-52.

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⚠️ Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.