TEENS AND FITNESS
Good food, Exercise and fitness are essential for keeping you healthy and in shape.
Part of being a teen is learning to take care of yourself and your needs. While you might think of getting a job and learning how to drive a car, this can also involve really basic stuff, like eating healthy and getting exercise. When you’re running from class to after school clubs to homework, it can be really hard to make sure you’re staying healthy.
Sometimes it’s as easy as being able to understand what’s in the food you are eating, and carving out a little bit of time in the morning or afternoon to stretch your legs.
A few simple changes can make all the difference in staying healthy. When you’re getting the nutrition you need, you feel great and you’re ready to take on that busy schedule!
Being physically active isn’t the only thing that affects your weight and how you feel. Eating right is also important. Teens don’t need to be strict about their diets, but should instead make an effort to eat healthy foods the majority of the time. By establishing good eating habits while in your teen years, you can set up a pattern of healthy eating that lasts for your entire life.
A Teenager’s Nutritional Needs
Calories are the measurement used to express the energy delivered by food. The body demands more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life.
- Boys require an average of 2,800 calories per day.
- Girls require an average of 2,200 calories per day.
During middle and late adolescence, girls eat roughly 25% fewer calories per day than boys do; consequently, they are more likely to be deficient in vitamins and minerals.
The nutrients protein, carbohydrates, and fats in food serve as the body’s energy sources.
- Each gram of protein and carbohydrate supplies 4 calories, or units of energy.
- Fat contributes more than twice as much: 9 calories per gram.
Of the three nutrients, we’re least concerned about protein. Not because it isn’t important—50% of our body weight is made up of protein.
The densest sources of protein include teenage favourites such as:
Carbohydrates, found in starches and sugars, get converted into the body’s main fuel: the simple sugar glucose. Not all carbs are created equal, however. In planning meals, we want to push complex-carbohydrate foods and go easy on simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs provide sustained energy; that’s why you often see marathon runners and other athletes downing big bowls of pasta before competing. As a bonus, many starches deliver fibre and assorted nutrients too. They are truly foods of substance: filling yet low in fat.
- Most nutritionists recommend that complex carbohydrates make up 50% to 60% of a teenager’s caloric intake.
- Simple carbs, on the other hand, seduce us with their sweet taste and a brief burst of energy but have little else to offer and should be minimized in the diet.
Fat should make up no more than 30% of the diet. Fat supplies energy and assists the body in absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. But these benefits must be considered next to its many adverse effects on health. A teenager who indulges in a fat-heavy diet is going to put on weight, even if he’s active. It would take a workout befitting an Olympic athlete to burn off excess fat calories day after day.
Dietary fat contains varying proportions of three types:
- Monounsaturated fat —the healthiest kind; found in olives and olive oil; peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter; cashews; walnuts and walnut oil, and canola oil.
- Polyunsaturated fat —found in corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and sesame-seed oil.
- Saturated fat —is the most cholesterol laden of the three; found in meat and dairy products like beef, pork, lamb, butter, cheese, cream, egg yolks, coconut oil, and palm oil.
You want to limit your family’s intake of saturated fat to no more than 10% of your total daily calories. The other 20% of daily calories from dietary fat should come equally from the two unsaturated kinds of fat, both of which are contained mainly in plant oils.
If your teen eats a lot of packaged and processed foods: Make a habit of reading the food labels. You may be surprised to see how much fat, sugar, and salt (sodium), is in the foods you eat every day. And almost all packaged goods that contain fat are likely to have partially hydrogenated fat, because it has a longer shelf life.
Getting teenagers into the routine of exercising increases the likelihood that they will grow up to value healthy living and stay active. It will take concerted efforts of parents, schools and communities, however, to encounter the many diversions vying for a youngster’s time and attention.
In the teen years, kids who used to be bundles of nonstop energy might lose interest in physical activity. Between school, studying, friends, and even part-time jobs, they’re juggling a lot of interests and responsibilities.
Fitness in the Teen Years
It’s recommended that teens get at least 1 hour of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
Teens can get health benefits from almost any activity they enjoy — skateboarding, in-line skating, yoga, swimming, dancing, or kicking a foot bag in the driveway.
Teens can work physical activity into everyday routines, such as walking to school, doing chores, or finding an active part-time job.
Motivating Teens to Be Active
Teens face many new social and academic pressures in addition to dealing with emotional and physical changes. Studies show that teens on average spend more than 7½ hours a day on various media, including watching TV, listening to music, surfing online, and playing video games. So it’s no surprise that they can’t seem to find the time to exercise or that parents can’t motivate them to be active.
Parents should try to give teens control over how they decide to be physically active. Teens are defining themselves as individuals and want the power to make their own decisions, so they’re reluctant to do yet another thing they’re told to do. Emphasize that it’s not what they do; they just need to be physically active regularly.
Once they get started, many teens enjoy the feelings of well-being, reduced stress, and increased strength and energy they get from exercise. As a result, some begin to exercise regularly without nudging from a parent.
For teens to stay motivated, the activities have to be fun. Support your teen’s choices by providing equipment, transportation, and companionship. Peers can play an influential role in teens’ lives, so create opportunities for them to be active with their friends.
Help your teen stay active by finding an exercise regimen that fits with his or her schedule. Your teen may not have time to play a team sport at school or in a local league, but many gyms offer teen memberships, and kids might be able to squeeze in a visit before or after school.
Some teens might feel more comfortable doing home exercise videos, which are fine. But while exercise video games (like tennis or bowling) are a good alternative to sedentary activities, they shouldn’t replace active play and participation in sports.
And all teens should limit the time spent in sedentary activities, including watching TV, playing video games, and using computers, smartphones, or tablets.
A Healthy Lifestyle
In addition to exercise, making just a few other changes in your life can help keep you healthy, such as
- Watch less TV or spend less time playing computer or video games. (Use this time to exercise instead!) Or exercise while watching TV (for example, sit on the floor and do sit-ups and stretches; use hand weights; or use a stationary bike, treadmill, or stair climber).
- Eat 3 healthy meals a day, including at least 4 servings of fruits, 5 servings of vegetables, and 4 servings of dairy products.
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after any exercise (water is best but flavoured sports drinks can be used if they do not contain a lot of sugar). This will help replace what you lose when you sweat.
- Stop drinking or drink fewer regular soft drinks.
Getting Along With Your Parents
Fighting with your parents
During your teen years, you may find that you are fighting with your parents about everything and anything. This is not unusual. As a child, your parents did everything for you and that was okay. But now that you are a teenager, you can do a lot of things for yourself. As you develop, you begin to have your own opinions and ideas, and your parents are not ready to handle this yet. It is a big shock for them to see a whole new person grow out of the child you once were.
The adjustments that both you and your parents go through during your adolescent years cause the fighting. You feel grown-up enough to do something; they feel the opposite. Also, your parents’ first instinct is to protect you. So while you may not feel like you are doing anything wrong, they may dislike a few of your friends, or not want you to go to a party where everyone will be drinking.
How can I deal with my parents?
- Do not yell and insult them – this only makes you look immature, and they will be less likely to understand what you want
- Try to reason with them logically to prove you are mature enough to do what you want
Make a deal – for example, you want to stay out two hours later. Your parents want you to get an A on your next math test. Make a deal that if you get the A, you can stay out later. It’s a win-win situation
Almost everyone has experienced peer pressure before, either positive or negative. Peer pressure is when your classmates, or other people your age, try to get you to do something. It is so easy to give in to peer pressure because everyone wants to fit in and be liked. Especially when it seems like “everyone is doing it”. Sometimes people give in to peer pressure because they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings or they do not know how to get out of the situation so they just say “yes”.
How do I resist peer pressure?
- Understanding your own values and beliefs
- Have Self-confidence
- Choose your friends wisely
- Talk to a trusted adult
- Don’t make excuses – say exactly how you feel
How do peers pressure?
- Insults: making a person feel bad for not doing something, so that they eventually will
- Reasoning: pressure by giving a person reasons why they should do something
- Rejection: pressure by threatening to end a relationship or a friendship
- Unspoken pressure: simply seeing all your peers doing something or wearing something can be s form of pressure
But… there is also positive peer pressure!
- Pressure to not drink/smoke/do drugs
- Pressure to be nice and help others
- Pressure to exercise
Think you’ve got what it takes to build a healthy relationship? Create your ideal boyfriend and see how you respond to some challenging situations in your relationship.
Did you know you may be in a relationship right now and not even realize it?!
After all, you don’t have to be dating someone to be in a relationship.
While boyfriends and girlfriends are probably what teens usually associate with the word, there are many other types of relationships out there: parents, siblings, friends and teachers are just a few!
All relationships have their ups and downs, but if a relationship has more downs than ups, or you find yourself dealing with problems like divorce, sexting or cyber bullying it can feel pretty overwhelming.
Safer Sex Guidelines for Adolescents
What is “safe” sex?
The only safe sex is no sex, according to most health care providers. Abstinence may be the only true form of “safe” sex, as all forms of sexual contact carry some risk. However, certain precautions and safe behaviours can minimize a person’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. As a parent, you can teach your child about safer sex before he/she becomes sexually active.
Talking to your teen about safe sex
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents start talking to children about sex when they first ask where babies come from, usually between the ages of 3 and 4. Although many adolescents may say they know everything about sex, studies have found that many adolescents are not completely informed about sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
As a parent, you are the best source of accurate information for your adolescent. However, many parents are unsure how to begin talking about safe sex with their adolescents. The following are some tips on how to approach the topic of safe sex with your adolescent:
- Talk calmly and honestly about safe sex.
- Practice talking about safe sex with another adult before approaching your adolescent.
- Listen to your adolescent and answer his/her questions honestly.
- Topics that are appropriate for a safe sex discussion may include: STDs and prevention, peer pressure to have sex, birth control, different forms of sexuality, and date rape.
Other people who can help talk to your adolescent about sex may include your adolescent’s physician or health care provider, a relative, or a religious counselor. Books on the topic may also be helpful in addressing uncomfortable questions.
Some misconceptions about “safe” sex:
- Kissing is thought to be a safe activity, but herpes and other diseases can be contracted this way.
- Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. While it is true that if used properly and consistently condoms are helpful in preventing certain diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, they may not fully protect against other diseases such as genital warts, herpes and syphilis.
Guidelines for safer sex
Limit your sexual activity to only one partner who is having sex only with you to reduce exposure to disease-causing organisms. Follow these guidelines for safer sex:
- Think twice before beginning sexual relations with a new partner. First, discuss past partners, history of STDs, and drug use.
- Use condoms. A male condom made of latex or polyurethane – not natural materials. Polyurethane should only be used if you have a latex allergy. A female condom made of polyurethane.
- Although studies indicate that nonoxynol-9 spermicide kills HIV in laboratory testing, it has not been determined whether spermicides, used alone or with condoms, provide protection against HIV. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that latex condoms, with or without spermicides, should be used to help prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
- For oral sex, help protect your mouth by having your partner use a condom (male or female).
- Women should not douche after intercourse – it does not protect against STDs, could spread an infection farther into the reproductive tract, and can wash away spermicidal protection.
- See your health care provider for regular Pap tests, pelvic examinations, and periodic tests for STDs.
- Be aware of your partner’s body – look for signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge.
- Check your body frequently for signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge.
- Consider sexual activities other than vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse – techniques that do not involve the exchange of body fluids or contact between mucous membranes.
For Teens: How to Make Healthy Decisions about Sex
Before you decide to have sex or if you are already having sex, you need to know how to stay healthy. Even if you think you know everything you need to know about sex, take a few minutes and read on. Your doctor wants to make sure you know the facts.
- No one should ever be forced to have sex! If you are ever forced to have sex, it’s important to never blame yourself and to tell an adult you trust as soon as possible.
- Not using alcohol and drugs will help you make clearer choices about sex. Too many young people have sex without meaning to when they drink alcohol or use drugs.
Are You Ready for Sex?
Sex can change your life and relationships. Having sex may affect the way you feel about yourself or how others feel about you.
Many teens believe waiting until they are ready to have sex is important. The right time is different for each teen. For example, some teens may want to wait until they are older (adults); other teens may want to wait until they feel their relationship is ready.
You may feel that your relationship is ready when:
- You can be completely honest and trust the other person, and the other person can trust you.
- You can talk with the person about difficult topics, such as feelings, other relationships, and if the person has had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- You can be responsible, protecting yourself and your partner against STIs and pregnancy with condoms and birth control.
- You can respect the other person’s decisions about not having sex and about using protection.
However, if you are in love or really like someone, you may ignore the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
The following signs mean your relationship is not ready for sex:
- Your partner is jealous or possessive. For example, your partner prevents you from spending time with your family or other friends, texts or instant messages you constantly, or checks your cell phone to see who you are talking with.
- Your partner pressures you to have sex and refuses to see your point of view.
- Your partner manipulates you by either bullying you or threatening to hurt himself if you end the relationship.
There’s nothing wrong if you decide to wait. Not everyone is having sex. Half of all teens have never had sex. If you decide to wait, stick with your decision. Plan ahead how you are going to say no so you are clearly understood. Stay away from situations that can lead to sex.
Here are reasons why waiting to have sex makes sense:
- Sex can lead to pregnancy. Are you ready to be pregnant or become a teenaged parent? It’s a huge responsibility. Are you able to provide food, clothing, and a safe home for your baby?
- Sex has health risks. A lot of infections can be spread during sex. Sexually transmitted infections include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, herpes, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), human papillomavirus (HPV), or syphilis.
- Sex can lead to emotional pain and distractions. You may feel sad or angry if you let someone pressure you into having sex when you’re not really ready. You also may feel sad or angry if you choose to have sex but your partner leaves you. Your partner may even tell other people that you had sex with her.
If you decide to have sex, it’s important that you know the facts about birth control, infections, and emotions. Decisions of when to become sexually active, how to protect yourself from STIs, and how to prevent pregnancy are yours. These are important decisions and are worth talking about with adults who care about you, including your doctor.
Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence is a personal decision to refrain from all sexual intercourse: vaginal, anal, or oral. You may think that everyone is having sex, but that is not true. The decision about whether to have sex is a very important one and can often be quite difficult to make. It may surprise you to know that, when it comes to sex, most teens and parents agree that the first priority for teens is to wait to have sex in order to protect their physical and emotional health.
Drugs & Alcohol
You’ve heard it all before… Drugs are bad for you. They could ruin your future and your chances at college. They damage your health and may even kill you. And yet, many teens continue to abuse drugs and alcohol, either casually or on a regular basis.
We know it is tempting to have a drink at a party because everyone else is, or to feel pressure when friends want to share drugs with you, but there’s a reason adults tell you to just say no! The odds are stacked against you when it comes to trying drugs or alcohol. In this section, we cover the effects of alcohol on teens, and list a variety of common drugs that teens may want to try, along with the risks of each. Educate yourself on what these drugs will actually do to you and you’ll be ready to handle any situation that comes your way.
The Dangers of “Date-Rape” Drugs
In particular, the odourless, colourless drug benzodiazepine flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) has been linked to thousands of rapes in which youngsters secretly drop it into their unsuspecting dates’ drinks, alcoholic or otherwise. It quickly causes them to be dizzy, disoriented and to black out.
Remember the following tips
- Never leave your drink unattended at a party, dance club, restaurant or other gathering. If you have to use the rest room, take it with you or ask a trusted friend to keep an eye on it until you return.
- Don’t accept open-container drinks from anyone you don’t know well (excluding servers and bartenders).
- Although these substances are difficult to detect in a beverage, be aware of the taste, texture and appearance of your drink. For instance, GHB has a salty taste, while Rohypnol has been described as slightly bitter when sprinkled into alcohol. The new green tablets make light-coloured liquids assume a bluish hue; darker liquids turn cloudy.
- Friends look out for friends. If you suspect that another girl has ingested any drug—including alcohol, the most abused depressant of all—that could leave her defenceless against a possible rape attempt, get her out of the situation.
Behind the Wheel: How to Help Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
A driver’s license used to be a rite of passage for most teenagers. The license was a key to growing independence from adults and new worlds of possibilities
Driving may be one of the first skills where teens have to coordinate their eyes, hands, and feet. Teens also more likely to miscalculate a traffic situation and are more easily distracted than older drivers and more likely to speed, tailgate, text, not use seat belts, and make critical decision errors that result in accidents. Teens, particularly males, are also more likely succumb to peer pressure, overestimate their abilities, and have emotional mood swings, leading to crashes.
What parents can do:
- Give your teen extra practice behind the wheel. School driver’s-ed programs and private driving instruction typically provide a total of six hours on-the-road training when the experience actually needed to become reasonably proficient is closer to fifty hours (two hours a week spread over six months). “Practice makes better,” so provide as much driver education as possible.
- After a teen acquires a learner’s permit, by passing a vision test and taking a written exam, he or she may drive when accompanied by a licensed driver aged twenty-one or older. You can start with basic skills, then introduce other scenarios such as driving at night, on country roads, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, on freeways, at dusk, in rainy weather and so on. It’s a good idea to ask your child’s drivers-ed instructor which areas have been mastered and which ones need more training. You can get into the habit of handing your teen the car keys when you’re out running errands together. There is no substitute for experience. Extend driving privileges at a pace that you feel your teenager can handle.
Teens are the responsible citizens of the world and the torch bearers of tomorrow . Encouraging all round development of happy, healthy ,safe and stable teens is our responsibility