The Correlation Between Teen Smoking and Athletics
Those of us who have been through it already know: Many changes occur when people enter their teen years. According to a recent study out of the New Brunswick Medical Training Centre, these changes include how we get our exercise. The Canadian researchers analyzed the data of secondary school students and their physical activity over the past five years. The results indicated that, while 94 percent of these students had participated in team sports during seventh grade, only 50 percent of the females and 69 percent of the males continued that participation until the end of high school.
Fortunately, this doesn't mean that all of the young people who gave up team sports stopped being physically active. The data indicated that 90 percent of the students who quit team sports found alternative ways to maintain their fitness levels. Such alternative methods could include walking, jogging, swimming, working with exercise videos, or even dancing.
Many sources will say that organized sports fitness is essential, and that the combination of physical discipline and social interaction are key to keeping teenagers from questionable activities involving drugs and sex. However, the social environment and high demand of team sports and activities might not be right for every teenager. In these cases, it is a good idea to present the teens with individual options to stay fit, rather than push sports on them. Developing exercise habits that require little in the way of monetary benefit or a social element may even end up serving teens better in the long run, as they are easier to hang on to later in life.
There is another side to how people's physical health and activity change during the teen years. This is the time when many people start smoking. Scientists from the Hood Center for Children and Families at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, NH have been studying the data gathered from young people in 1999, 2006, and 2007 to see how early exposure to smoking in the movies affects teenage smoking. As most people might suspect, there seems to be a positive correlation between early pop culture exposure to smoking, and developing a smoking habit in the teen years. Out of 2,048 teenage participants, 353 reported being established smokers. The average exposure to smoking in the movies among all participants was 1,191 smoking occurrences in 601 movies. The smokers tended to exceed the average of seen smoking occurrences.
Among young people active in team sports, the occurrence of habitual smoking is half that of youths not participating in team sports. Yet, the trend remains that seeing smoking in the movies at a young age makes a young person more likely to be a smoker a few years later.
The obvious lesson of these two studies is that many teenagers will stop playing team sports in high school, and that they are more likely to be smokers because of that. But it is important to remember that the second of the two studies was conducted through school and telephone based surveys, meaning that the information was obtained from the participants, and may be skewed.
The practical lesson of the studies is to encourage our children and teenagers to be physically active, whether on or off a team, and to educate them about the dangers of smoking. Additionally, allowing them to make some of their own decisions and mistakes during the teen years will help teach them responsibility. This can be a stressful time for kids and parents, but as long as the central themes are love and support, good health is sure to follow!