I have teenagers on my mind. My daughter Annie turned 13 today, and that makes four Hetzels that are teenaged! Eight years ago our oldest (now 21) became a teenager. Although we really shouldn’t have done the math, my husband and I realized this morning that we have 18 more years of parenting teenagers! By that time I will be able to write a book…but for now, I’m just hanging on for dear life.
The teenage years are full of many joys, some sorrows, and more than a few challenges. I am certainly more of a realist since having my first teenagers. I am also a firm believer in Guardian Angels. As many parents of teenagers know, exercise can be a crucial way to relieve some of the stress involved. Many early morning runs have been spent with my friends lamenting, encouraging, and just listening to each other’s teenage stories…good and bad. There have been times when exercising has been limited due to having to deal with teenage drama, but mostly, working-out has been part of my coping method, and has brought me a refreshed perspective afterwards.
Not only is exercise valuable for parents, but also for the teenagers themselves. The stress relief-factor and the self-discipline of sports can be crucial and positive additions to the lives of teens. Being a part of a sports team can give teenagers purpose, camaraderie, and commitment to something larger than themselves. Brain functioning has been shown to increase with exercise as well, and lots of new and exciting research is being done on this subject. Harvard psychiatrist, John Ratey, has written a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which reveals the link between the two.
With Annie’s 13th birthday today, I am celebrating those years in between childhood and adulthood. Most of us can look back on our own life and remember those years as a time of self discovery. They were exciting, scary, and filled with new challenges. As a parent, I feel both the weight and the privilege of being an important part of my children’s life during this momentous period. I just need to buy a new pair of running shoes for all of the morning “therapy” runs that lie ahead…
Tell us how exercise has helped you deal with the teen years!