Do you want more energy, better endurance and your ideal weight? Of course you do! Optimizing teen health is important because it gives you the personal power and strength to pursue their goals.
Getting there can be as simple as making five smart changes in the way you live your life now.
1) Get to know your calories
A healthy weight depends on balancing the energy you take in with the energy you put out. It’s that easy. So why don’t we all do it? That’s where psychology kicks in. The main reason we find it so difficult to maintain a healthy weight is because we trick ourselves into believing that we eat less than we actually do.
A study by Cambridge and Reading Universities shows that overweight people underestimate the amount they consume, in particular their intake of sugar. The best way for all of us to maintain a healthy weight range is to be honest about the food and drink we digest, and to know how much energy is in that stuff (i.e. how many calories it contains).
Tip: Download a calorie counting app. The recommended calorie intake for a man is 2500 per day, and for a woman it’s 2000 per day. Teenagers or anyone engaged in additional exercise may need a bit more than that so if you feel you’re needing more energy try to get it with natural foods such as fruit and vegetables rather than sweets.
2) Kick the cola: swap sugary drinks for water
According to Harvard University, sugary drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Why? The average can of sugar-sweetened drink provides about 150 calories – that’s 10 teaspoons of the sweet stuff! If you were to drink a single can of sugary pop every day without cutting out calories elsewhere, you could gain five pounds in just one year. Reducing intake of soft drinks is associated with less weight gain and metabolic improvement.
Tip: If you find it hard to kick the soda habit, train your taste buds away from sugary drinks by cutting down one drink at a time.
3) Hit your 75/150 teen health target
According to NHS advice, it takes 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (where you’re breathing fast and have difficulty talking) or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (where your breathing rate is increased but you’re still able to talk) every week to keep you healthy.
Additional benefits of exercising regularly include increased mental clarity and much better sleep.
Tip: For most people, the easiest way to hit these numbers is by fitting them into everyday life. Maybe walking, running or cycling to school is an option. Don’t forget that the 75/150 is just the starting point – the more you do, the healthier you’ll be!
4) Find your sport-for-life
If you don’t have one already, find a sport or physical activity that really suits you. It could be a team game or something you do solo. You might do it at school or elsewhere. It could be something you can do to a competitive level, or just for fun! Either way, be open to trying new things and until you find something you enjoy and that makes you feel good.
Fitness aside, there is other reasons for participating in physical activities that keep you engaged. It can make you feel happier and contribute positively to achieving optimum mental health. This includes avoiding potential problems such as depression and stress-related disorders.
Tip: Make time to try out new opportunities next time there’s a taster session in your neighborhood. Fencing, Zumba, squash or trampolining could be the sports passion you’ve been looking for.
5) Make time to relax
That’s right – give yourself a break! After all these active life-changing strategies you’ll be glad to hear that every healthy life needs to encompass the right amount of relaxation. No, that’s not a license to sofa-surf the TV or game your days away but it is the advice that tells you to value quiet time.
Relaxing is great for your body (it needs time to repair) and mind (it needs time to disengage from daily stresses). Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University has conducted research to show that chronic stress lasting more than one month doubles a person’s chance of catching a cold. What you may not know is that relaxing is also thought to reduce acne outbreaks because stress is known to increase skin oil production.
Tip: Timetable your downtime. We all lead busy lives and the last thing we’d usually think about doing is putting relaxation into our calendars. But that’s what we may need to avoid all those health drawbacks and reap the benefits of doing nothing!
Be sure to get professional advice from your doctor or a qualified health professional before implementing any of these ideas or making any other changes to your lifestyle.
What health strategies have you created for yourself? Please share your teen health advice in the comments section below.