A wealth of studies over the last few years suggests that the majority of today's teens are not as active as they need to be in order to maintain good health. Nonetheless, many teens interviewed by Wave do manage to pack some activity into their lives. Here is how they do it:
Age 17, Grade 12
Patricia Polden has a newfound passion.
The 17-year-old loves to dance.
"I love how it helps keep my legs toned
and my stomach toned and it's making me
feel better about myself."
The Grade 12 student is a relative
newcomer to the dance world. She first
started taking classes just two years ago at
her high school. "I'm not the greatest, but I
love being active," she says.
Polden also loves to run on the track,
and on Wednesday and Thursday nights
throughout the year, she helps her boyfriend
hand-deliver flyers in the neighbourhood.
The couple walk briskly and cover the
route in 60 to 90 minutes. Although she is
fairly active, Polden acknowledges that
she doesn't necessarily get 60 minutes of
moderate to vigorous activity each day
during a school year, unless she has dance
during a semester. "It's hard to work out that
much every day while juggling school work,
the course I am currently taking outside of
school, helping out around the house, and
still having a normal 17-year-old's social life."
She will, however, continue trying.
Age 15, Grade 10
Sixty minutes every day.
That's how much physical activity every
Canadian teen needs to maintain good health.
And walking from the living room to the kitchen
and back again won't cut it. We're talking
about moderate to vigorous, heart-pumping,
Fifteen-year-old Matthew Martin knows the
The Grade 10 student in Winnipeg is a
passionate sports lover. He plays basketball,
baseball, floor hockey and tackle football. He
can't wait for gym class so he can get moving
and he joins lots of intramural sports, too.
Playing sports "makes me feel energized,"
His active life has also given him another gift.
"I feel pretty confident about myself."
He would love to help other kids get hooked
on sports and exercise.
As Martin says: "I could help teach them
Age 12, Grade 7
Shasta-Kelly Nimubona starts every day
with the same routine.
After she jumps out of bed, she shakes out
her arms and legs, stretches up to the ceiling,
then down to the floor and side to side.
She wakes up her limbs and works out any
little kinks she's acquired overnight.
Once she's warmed up, the tween, who
was born in Tanzania, then pops down to the
floor and does the splits. Her mom, Christine,
has also started teaching Nimubona other
gymnastic moves like cartwheels and
backbends. The daily routine takes just a few
minutes but is well worth the time.
Nimubona loves to dance jazz and hip hop
and play soccer after school, too.
This summer, while at Camp Manitou for a
couple of days with Helping Hands Immigrant
Society, Nimubona played basketball for the
first time. Now she's hooked.
While she doesn't worry a lot about
keeping track of how much time she is active
- she's too busy - she does believe she meets
the minimum standard for children and
youth of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous
physical activity each day to maintain good
health. And that, she says, "makes me feel
Age 17, Grade 12
There's one place you'll never find Winnipeg
teen Helena Stanicevic: the couch.
She's not into watching television or
spending hours in front of a computer screen.
"I'm pretty active every day."
That's an understatement.
Every day before school, she hits the
treadmill at the Fermor YM/YWCA for a quick
20-minute run before classes start next door at
The 17-year-old Grade 12 student plays
pick-up basketball, soccer and taught herself
to freestyle and breakdance. This year, she's
trying out for the volleyball, basketball and
ultimate frisbee teams at school.
Stanicevic has also become a mentor
for other kids trying to stay active, embrace
exercise and learn new sports. She also teaches
gymnastics, basketball and dance to younger
kids at the YMCA-YWCA, where she works.
When she's not participating or teaching
sports, Stanicevic runs on the treadmill and
works out with weights whenever her schedule
permits. She also spends a lot of time chasing
after her two younger brothers, ages six and
Being active has also changed her life. Two
years ago, she lost 65 pounds after completely
changing her diet and adding more physical
activity to her daily routine.
"I feel amazing about myself and what I've
Age 17, Grade 12
About three years ago, April Limosinero
discovered she had a new talent: running.
And she was pretty good at it, too.
The Winnipeg teenager liked nothing more
than lacing up and hitting the track.
She's been hooked ever since.
Today, the Grade 12 student and track
member trains every other day after school,
running indoors and outdoors. "I love it," she says.
"It's your endurance, your shape, your health."
Limosinero is an active teen. Through her
new-found passion, she manages to get in
about 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every
other day. She complements that by
participating in other activities, including
badminton, lacrosse and swimming,
which she started when she was 10.
She also took up weight training in Grade 10
and recently joined a dragon boat team. To top
it all off, she walks to and from her bus stop on
her daily commute to school.
Her dad, Henry, is a big influence. On Tuesday
and Thursday evenings from September to June,
Limosinero and her father play badminton as
part of a recreational league. She says her dad
"is really sporty," and a great example of how
adults can keep and stay active.
Besides loving the competition of playing
sports, paddling and running track, Limosinero
has also learned to love something else: herself.
"I have a lot of self-confidence," she says. And
it's a message she hopes other young people
learn, too. "If you're active, you're going to have
confidence in yourself."
Age 16, Grade 11
Even while watching a friend play
computer games, Amin Bangura is rolling a
basketball around in his hands.
Basketball is his chosen sport, one he
plays on a team at his high school, as well
as on a local outdoor court.
"Sports give me quicker reflexes," he
says, tossing the ball to John Doherty, a
co-ordinator of the Going Places club in
Amin's neighbourhood. "Playing keeps me
in shape, gives me strength."
Doherty reminds Amin about how they
talk about Canada's Food Guide and
eating healthful food in order to fuel an
athletic body. "Yes," agrees Amin. "We
learn about that in school. And about not
Amin grew up playing soccer as a kid,
and now plays football with his friends,
although he says most kids his age would
rather be indoors, playing video games. He
also goes out walking with his father, and
horses around with his younger brother, Ali.
"I like basketball the most," he
says, adding that he works out in the
neighbourhood gym, using the weight
machines to build up muscle. "I think I get
in 30 minutes a day, on top of the team
practice at school. I have great friends on
Back to "Are today's youth active enough?"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the September / October 2012 issue of Wave