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Becoming a teenager and moving through your teen years can be difficult. It’s a time that is filled with many changes in your environment, your responsibilities, and even within your own body. Paying close attention to your physical health, mental health, and personal safety can help you to successfully make your way into an adulthood and a future that is full of potential. All of these have the ability to drastically impact your life in a positive or a negative way. Although these are the issues that parents often stress, teens should also come to understand and appreciate their importance. By understanding how these areas can influence your life, you can actively take part in ensuring a happy adolescence and life.
General Health and Nutrition
As a teen, staying fit and healthy is as important to your future as staying in school and getting an education. How you take care of your body during this time can greatly affect your risks of getting certain diseases over time. The keys to staying healthy include physical activity and getting the proper nutrition for your age group. For some teens, there is a false belief that they can eat whatever they want because of their age or because they are active. Unfortunately, regularly consuming junk foods can lead to obesity and health problems that can show themselves now or later. Cut out or drastically reduce the amount of processed, greasy, and sweet foods from your diet if possible. Instead, look for healthy, natural foods and eat five servings of vegetables, four servings of fruits, and four servings of dairy products over the course of three meals a day and snacks. Include lean meats, whole-grain products, and plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
To stay physically fit and strengthen bones and muscles, the first and most important step is to get up and start moving. Health professionals recommend that teens get at least 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. Because video games are so popular, the temptation to stay seated in front of the television with a controller in hand is high. Start by limiting the amount of time spent playing video games and doing other stationary activities. Another option is to choose games that encourage movement, such as games with motion-activated controls. Step outdoors for a walk or go bicycling with friends, start jogging, or take up a sport to stay fit.
- How Teens Can Stay Fit
- Healthy Eating for Teens
- Nutrition and Fitness
- Why Physical Activity Is Important
- Teen Weight Loss: Healthy Habits Count
- Physical Activity for Children
- Fitness Benefits for Teens
- Dr. Oz’s 25 Health Tips for Teens (slideshow)
- Nutrition for Children and Teens: The Special Nutritional Needs of Teens
Staying safe is an important part of staying healthy. There are a number of common threats that face most, if not all, teens. These threats involve the Internet, cars, and substances such as drug and alcohol. While on the Internet, you are faced with threats from people who you may or may not be familiar with. Online stalking and bullying are just two of the more common threats that can put your life in jeopardy. With both, people hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to contact and even harass their intended victim. Stalkers or predators may use social media to strike up conversations, build relationships, and eventually meet or molest teens. Cyberbullies use the Internet to spread rumors, embarrassing images, and hateful messages or otherwise harass you. This can result in someone getting physically hurt, or it can even cause suicidal thoughts and actions. If faced with either of these situations, it’s important to inform your parents or guardians as soon as possible and show them the messages. While on social media sites, avoid stalkers or predators by never giving out your name or any identifiable information, including the name of your school, or posting pictures of yourself.
Drugs and alcohol threaten your short and long-term health by causing a host of physical and mental problems that range from confusion to heart issues. Drugs and alcohol also threaten your safety by causing you to behave in ways that you wouldn’t under normal circumstances. While on drugs or alcohol, you suffer from a loss of inhibitions and good judgment that can result in pregnancy, contracting an STD, committing crimes, or getting into a car accident that results in your death or the injury or death of others. Driving presents a number of safety concerns in addition to the ones that come from driving under the influence. Speeding and distractions while driving, which include passengers, eating, applying makeup, texting, and talking on cell phones, all present problems for new drivers. Most states have laws against talking and texting while driving. In addition, you should limit the number of passengers in your car and avoid any activity that takes your eyes, hands, or mind off of the act of driving.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Tips for Teens
- Teen Drinking and Driving a Dangerous Mix: Statistics
- Drug Facts: Alcohol
- Speeding and Street Racing
- Teen Internet Safety Tips
When it comes to teens and mental health, the statistics tell the story. One out of five teens develop some form of treatable mental health problem by the time they turn 15 years old. For this reason, it is important to understand mental health concerns, not only for yourself but for friends as well. Common issues that may manifest during this period include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression. In fact, one-third of teens with mental health disorders suffer from depression. When a person has an anxiety disorder, they feel fear and anxiousness that’s greater and longer-lasting than what they might normally feel. It can become so bad that it causes problems for them at school or at their job. Certain types of anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, often begin when a person is a teen. Depression is a mood disorder. With depression, a person experiences overwhelming sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness. Like anxiety disorders, the depression can affect them in all areas of their life. In some cases, severe depression can lead to suicide if untreated. For this reason, you should understand what some of the common signs are so that you can recognize them in others or even in yourself. In addition to sadness, a teen with depression may lose weight, sleep more than usual or have difficulty sleeping, suffer from low energy, and complain of feeling worthless. Onset for this particular mood disorder begins in one’s teens, although often in the later teens.
Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These are conditions that affect your relationship or interaction with food and how you view yourself physically. Anorexia nervosa, or simply anorexia, most often occurs in people between the ages of 12 and 25. Although it is most often discussed in relation to women, men also suffer from this disorder. A teen with anorexia has a distorted image of their body in terms of their weight and shape and is obsessive in their need to be thin, even if they are already extremely thin. To prevent themselves from gaining weight, they severely limit the food that they eat. In addition, they may also exercise excessively or take other extreme measures. With bulimia, a person consumes amounts of food that are far greater than normal. Typically, these binging episodes occur over a relatively short period. Once full, the person vomits or purges the food out of their body, as they are overwhelmed with feelings of shame, guilt, and often disgust over their behavior. Purging of food may also involve the use of laxatives or enemas; however, some forms of bulimia do not involve purging but rather extreme exercising to burn off the calories. Between the two conditions, teens can suffer from problems such as rotting of the teeth, stomach ruptures, heart failure, osteoporosis, absent or irregular menstrual cycles, or problems of the stomach, kidneys, or liver. If you are suffering from a mental health disorder, you should always seek treatment from a medical professional. Treatment often involves individual or family therapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy, behavior modification, or medication.
- Teen Depression
- Eating Disorders: General Information
- Anxiety Disorders
- Teens and Stress: Who Has Time for it?
- Mental Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Teenager’s Guide to Depression: Tips and Tools for Helping Yourself or a Friend (PDF)
- Anorexia Nervosa
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