While young people today are more adept with digital technology than ever before, and thus equipped with a certain baseline skillset that projects favorably in the workforce of the future, their extensive screen time during adolescence has taken a pernicious toll on many of them. Growing up in an era of instant information, attention spans are short and outdoor activity can no longer be taken for granted the way it once was in decades past.

Encouragingly, this reality is not lost on most parents today and the culture at large is responding with new ways to enable or otherwise inspire better fitness and exercise habits among teens. One of the leaders in the endeavor is Planet Fitness, which just announced figures from this year’s Teen Summer Challenge, according to a press release published by Cape Cod Today, which notes:

Planet Fitness, Inc., one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the U.S. and home of the Judgement Free Zone®, announced that more than 900,000 teens signed up for its national Teen Summer Challenge initiative, logging nearly 5.5 million workouts over the course of three-and-a-half months.

The Teen Summer Challenge took place from May 15 through September 1, during which Planet Fitness opened its doors to high school teenagers ages 15 – 18 to work out for free at any of its more than 1,800 locations in the United States and Canada.

As the impetus for this initiative, Planet Fitness commissioned a national study* to find out how teens felt about health and fitness with key findings including: 

  • If There’s a Will, There’s a Way. 91 percent of teens want to stay active and healthy over the summer, but many of them simply don’t know where to begin. Additionally two in five (41 percent) of teenagers report that their fitness levels decrease over the summer when school is out.
  • Teens Feel Intimidated about Fitness. Almost two in five (39 percent) say they don’t have enough guidance on how to exercise or where to even start (36 percent). Those who do work out, however, noted they feel more confident (47 percent), happier (43 percent), less stressed (37 percent) and less anxious (24 percent) overall.
  • Fitness over Screen Time. More than one-third (36 percent) of teens wish to exercise more during their free time, which is greater than the number of teens who want to spend more time playing video games (27 percent), browsing social media (16 percent) or watching TV (16 percent).
  • Improved Academics through Fitness. Especially timely given the start of the school year, there are also fitness benefits that parlay into academics; among teens who see improvements based on exercise (91 percent), two in five (40 percent) report that exercise helps them find more focus, with 23 percent directly attributing it to making them a better student.

While the free workouts directly benefited teens this summer, the study should also help adults in society to better understand the paradigm and perspective of many in today’s youth.

To read the full writeup, click here.