It is in their teenage years when a person goes through many physical changes that can affect their life as an adult. Therefore, it is essential for teenagers to take part in healthy living by consuming a healthy diet, doing the right exercises and maintaining the correct body postures to ensure a bright and healthy future.
A teenager has many nutritional needs that can be fulfilled by a balanced diet, containing the fundamental nutrients in correct proportions. Firstly, in the early stages of adolescence, calories are greatly required by the body. In general, teenage boys need to consume 2,800 calories each day and teenage girls need to consume 2,200 calories per day. An excessive intake of calories can result in serious health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Obesity is most common amongst teens today because of the wrong choices they make in their diet. Today, junk foods like pizza, burger, fries and soda are the major portion of teenager’s diet which has little “nutritional value” and contains excessive fat, sugar, salt, and calories. Junk food intake is to be avoided to minimize health risk and weight gain. Other nutrients that a teenager needs are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The main source of calories should come from carbohydrates (50 to 60 percent) that can be found in healthy high carbohydrate foods such as vegetables, beans, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt. Protein can be attained by foods like beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, eggs and cheese. Instead of drinking sodas, better to replace with milk as it is a great source of calcium and vitamins important for the development of the bones whilst the growth of a teen. A proper intake of fruits and vegetables in a day can ensure proper development of tissues and right consumption of vitamins and minerals.
The second component of healthy living in teenagers is exercise. Teenage years are a period of growth in both physical and mental aspects and exercise is a great way to reduce stress, burn extra calories and strengthen mental health. It also reduces the risk of many diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and breast cancer. Teenagers should participate in sports like swimming, basketball, soccer, badminton and do regular aerobic exercises as it ensures proper oxygen intake and also improves their stamina. Doing yoga for 15 to 20 minutes in the morning can really help in relaxation of taut muscles, build better focus and increase flexibility. It releases chemicals called endorphins in the body that can improve mood which can then enhance learning skills and boost academic results. Strength training exercises such as pushups, pull ups, squats, leg raises and crunches increase muscle mass and help build strong arm, leg and stomach muscles. It is extremely important to do warm ups before doing any form of exercise to loosen muscles and avoid muscle ache. Evening walk for teens is highly effective to relieve day stress and to maintain a healthy weight.
The third and final part of healthy living is maintaining the right body postures. Almost every teenager today uses smart phones or laptops resulting in them laying on bed in an incorrect manner, phone too close to their eyes, or slouching on the couch while flipping channels on the television. An incorrect body posture can result into several physical problems over time like slip disc, back ache and back pain and can also lower self esteem in teenagers. Inferior pillows and bedding can also be the cause of incorrect posture and thus the right pillows and bed should be used to avoid straining of neck and back. Exercises like stretching their arms, shoulder squeezes and rolling their neck can also release tension from the body and are beneficial for their posture. A good body posture entails proper distribution of gravity in our body instead of putting our entire weight on one particular muscle or body part.
Another important thing to remember is that sleep is immensely vital for proper body growth. Sleep triggers release a hormone in body that promotes normal growth in children and teens and also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells. Teenagers should receive at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep as not having enough sleep can heighten stress levels and reduce their thinking power. Lack of sleep can result in harsh behavior and can affect their social and academic life. Sleep is important to secure their mental and physical health and thus getting sufficient hours of sleep is significant to improve the quality of life.
by Stuti Agarwal
Grade X, GMIS, Jakarta