General exercise guides often recommend that all people exercise for at least half an hour a day, but a study undertaken at the University of Exeter shows that for teens, this recommendation falls short. The study, carried out on teens aged 12 to 17, suggested that teens get at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day.

Vigorous exercise – which can leave you breathless – is linked to a big reduction in the risk factors that up the likelihood of heart disease. These factors include body mass index and waist measurement.

Focusing on Heart Health

Moderate exercise has many health benefits for teens since it boosts mental as well as physical health. It is vital to note that the study focused exclusively on heart health, finding that high-impact cardio was particularly good for teens’ hearts. This means that both moderate and vigorous workouts should be embraced for overall health and wellbeing.

Which Exercises can be Considered Moderate and Vigorous?

Vigorous exercise can include walking uphill or completing a tough treadmill or elliptical session. The good thing about most gym workouts is that machines can be adapted to increase the intensity of teens’ workouts. If you are interested in treadmills or ellipticals, read this comparison to check out the relative speeds and inclinations of different machines. Teens can work to increase both velocity and add variation and difficulty into their gym workouts progressively.

Giving Your Heart a Workout

Those wishing to take part in vigorous exercise outdoors can do so in a variety of ways. The key to getting the intensity right is to aim for an active heart rate of between 50 to 85% of teens’ maximum heart rate. That means that for the average healthy 16-year-old, the heart rate should be somewhere between 102 and 173 bpm. This depends on their fitness level and the type of workout involved. If you are a teen and are wondering what bpm to aim for, ask your family doctor the next time you visit. Broadly defined, vigorous activity uses up to six times the amount of energy that resting does, while moderate exercise consumes three times your resting energy expenditure rate.

Taking it Outside

If you enjoy outdoor exercise, on good days or when you aren’t visiting the gym, why not take your workout outdoors? Being in nature has powerful effects on the psyche, helping to improve your mood and keep stress levels down. Examples of outdoor vigorous activities include running, biking, high-impact aerobics, rope jumping, hiking uphill, swimming, and tennis. If you aren’t used to exercising, make sure to make your way up to a vigorous workout. Start, for instance, with a brisk walk and after increasing your pace and time for a few days, you might progress to alternating between brisk walking and light running.

If you are a teen wanting to keep your heart in great health for the future, make sure to exercise vigorously, aiming for around an hour of this type of exercise a day. If you are already going to the gym, enjoy an active aerobics class or a tough elliptical workout, ensuring your heart rate remains within a safe rate. Finally, try to take it outside as well, to take advantage of the powerful mental benefits of exercising in natural areas.