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A Teen’s Guide to Healthy Aging

A Teen's Guide to Healthy Aging

Even before you hit your teen years, you will probably start feeling like you’re not as much of a child as you once were. Adolescence is the important transition period that comes between childhood and adulthood, and it’s common for teens to feel frustrated and sometimes confused during this unsettling time. The confusion can come from the many physical and emotional changes that happen to you as you leave childhood behind. Aging can be challenging, but when you understand how to take care of yourself, you can ensure that you’ll grow into a healthy adult.

Nutrition

Taking care of your nutrition will help ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to grow and stay healthy. Your body needs you to eat many different kinds of foods every day, including proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You get energy from complex carbohydrates. Your muscles can rebuild and stay strong when you eat protein and dairy products. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins that help maintain your overall health. Try to eat a variety of healthful foods, but pay attention to your portions. While everyone likes to eat desserts, it’s a good idea to limit fat and sugar intake because too much could cause you to gain extra weight.

Fitness

Your body needs daily exercise to stay strong and maintain your health. Doctors recommend that kids and teens get at least one hour of physical activity every day. You could spend time playing an organized sport for school. You could take daily walks, runs, or bike rides with your friends to get exercise. Some chores around the house can count as physical activity, too, such as raking leaves, shoveling snow, or mowing the lawn. Try to find forms of exercise you enjoy.

Mental Health

As you progress through the teenage years, your mental health may feel unstable sometimes. Your body is undergoing lots of physical changes as you mature into adulthood. Hormones can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression. If you feel sad, hopeless, or uninterested in activities that you used to enjoy, talk to someone to get help. Some people need treatment to help with persistent feelings of sadness. Cognitive therapy and prescription medication may be two treatment options that could help with these feelings.

Drugs and Alcohol

Drug abuse is a prevalent issue that threatens the health of many people, including teenagers. Alcohol may seem like a relatively safe thing to try: About 75 percent of teenagers admit to consuming alcohol by the time they graduate from high school. Binge drinking involves drinking five or more alcoholic drinks over a couple of hours, and this process can be very dangerous, especially for teenagers. When teenagers consume alcohol or drugs, this can interfere with their developing brains, which can have negative long-term effects. You might make harmful decisions when you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Sexual Health

Sexual health for teenagers is another important area to understand. As you mature, you will likely begin to have sexual interest in other people. Making healthy decisions about sexual activity is crucial for both your short-term and long-term health. Waiting until you are ready to have sex will be an individual decision that you should think about and make carefully. When you find another person you trust who trusts you and you can have candid conversations about your relationship and using birth control, you might decide that you are ready to have sex. On the other hand, some relationships may not be healthy. Possessiveness, jealousy, or pressure to have sex could be warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Waiting to have sex has some benefits. Sex can lead to pregnancy, and it also carries with it health risks such as sexually transmitted diseases. The only way to protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to have no sex. If you do decide to have sex, condoms can reduce the risk of unwanted results if you use them correctly.

Master of Arts in Gerontology

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