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Teen Health

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Aerobic Exercise for Teenagers

You need aerobic exercise to keep your heart and lungs working their best. But what happens when you ignore aerobic exercise and spend most of the summer playing computer games with your friends?

Chances are, you gain weight. When you try on your jeans for school, you can barely pull up the zipper.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, to children and teens. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

Maybe you turn to your older brother for advice, saying, "I was a couch potato all summer -- and now I look like one! What can I do?"

Your brother responds, "It's simple! You have to move around more and get your body in condition. Turn off the computer and go for a walk. Swim laps. Ride your bike. If it's raining, run in place while you watch TV."

So you listen -- and take action, walking the half mile to the bus stop in the mornings and afternoons instead of catching a ride with a friend. You run the track at PE even when the coach gives you free time. And you sign up to be on the school's swim team, which practices every afternoon. You strengthen your cardiovascular system with aerobic exercise.

By Thanksgiving, you've lost the extra weight without changing your diet at all. You feel energetic and stronger, and you feel good about yourself. As a bonus, your clothes fit better. Your jeans are even a bit loose. Isn't it great to be active again?

Understanding Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise includes physical activity that increases your heart rate and keeps it higher for a certain period of time. It boosts the amount of oxygen delivered to your heart and muscles so they use oxygen more efficiently and stay healthier.

Aerobic exercise keeps you super-fit -- and healthy. It helps you maintain a normal weight, reduces your "love handles," and even eases stress, so you smile more and complain less. Studies show that increased stress hormones may be the cause of belly fat. And what's the best stress reliever? Exercise!

Regular aerobic exercise also releases endorphins (happy hormones), brain chemicals that boost your mood naturally. At the same time, aerobic exercise reduces the risk of some types of cancer.

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