Adolescence is a critical time when young people begin to make decisions on their own. Teenagers start to form ideologies and pick up habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Thus, it is essential for adolescents to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors at an early age. Educate teenagers about the consequences of positive and negative behaviors.
Making Healthy Food Choices
Obesity in the United States is an epidemic. Americans are now becoming obese at a younger age. To reduce the incidence of obesity, teenagers need to eat healthful foods both at home and at school. Balanced meals that include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins can improve a teenager’s health and well-being. They should avoid drinks that are high in sugar and snacks that are high in fat. Teens should focus on eating healthful snacks such as an apple instead of a candy bar.
Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day is important for people of all ages. Exercise is especially important for adolescents because it helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis down the road. The American College of Sports Medicine also suggests that exercise can lead to improved academic performance and an overall increase in self-esteem. Teenagers should be encouraged to participate in physical activities that they enjoy. These activities may include weightlifting, aerobic training, or general sporting activities. Teenagers who participate in physical activities in a group setting are more likely to stick to them.
According to the National Institute of Health, almost half of high school students engage in sexual intercourse at least once. Sexual activity at a young age is risky because teenagers do not fully understand the consequences of sexual actions. In 2009, over 400,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 had a baby. Additionally, almost half of the new STD incidences recorded each year involve people between the ages of 15 and 24. Teenagers need to be educated about safe sex practices by parents and their schools. Adopting safe sex practices will lead to the reduced risk of pregnancy and STDs.
Avoiding Drugs, Alcohol, and Smoking
Smoking or consuming drugs and alcohol can have grave consequences. Smoking is an addictive habit, and when this habit starts early in life, it is more difficult to quit later. Smoking increases the risk of many life-threatening diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, and Type 2 Diabetes. Consuming drugs and alcohol can negatively impact your performance in the classroom. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that in 2001, more than 25 percent of all 12th graders used illegal drugs. Teenagers need to understand that drug and alcohol consumption can lead to apathy, poor decision-making, and decreased cognitive function.
Dr. Sam Vaid specializes in health, wellness, nutrition and sports performance. He is the president and CEO of Sci-Sport, a comprehensive health, wellness and sports performance organization. He is credentialed through the American College of Sports Medicine and holds a doctorate in physical therapy from the Medical College of Georgia.