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Path to Improved Health


You can break down the concept of health into different categories. These could include physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. There are things any person can do to stay healthy in these areas. As a teenager, there are some things you should pay special attention to.


Physical health: Taking care of your body

  • Exercise regularly. Teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes of every day.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating is an important part of your growth and development. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, a variety of protein foods, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid junk foods such as soda pop, fast food, and chips, even when you are a teen. This will help you as you get older.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Children and teenagers with obesity are more likely to have obesity as an adult. They are also at higher risk for other chronic illnesses, depression, and bullying.

  • Get enough sleep. Most teens need between 9 and 9 ½ hours of sleep every night. Many average only 7 hours. Sleep has a strong effect on your ability to concentrate and do well at school.

  • Keep up with vaccinations. Get a flu shot every year. If you haven’t gotten the HPV vaccine, ask your parents and doctor about it. It can prevent you from getting HPV and some kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer and throat cancer.

  • Brush and floss your teeth. Make it a habit now and prevent tooth and gum problems in adulthood.

  • Wear sunscreen. Getting just one bad sunburn as a child or teenager increases your risk of getting skin cancer as an adult. Do not use tanning beds. They increase your risk of skin cancer.

  • Don’t listen to loud music. This can damage your hearing for the rest of your life.


Mental health: Taking care of your mind

  • Learn ways to manage stress. You can’t avoid stress, so you need to learn healthy coping skills. This will help you stay calm and be able to function in stressful situations.

  • Study and do your best in school. There is a strong link between health and academic success.

  • Try to maintain a good relationship with your parents. Remember that they want what is best for you. Try to see where they are coming from when they set rules.

  • Develop a good balance between school, work, and social life.

  • Don’t try to take on too much. Limit your activities to the most important ones and give those 100%. Overextending yourself can lead to stress, frustration, or exhaustion.


Emotional health: Taking care of your feelings

  • Know the signs of mental illness. These include:

    • Anxiety

    • Depression

    • Excessive tiredness

    • Loss of self-esteem

    • Loss of interest in things you used to like

    • Loss of appetite

    • Weight gain or loss

    • Out-of-character personality changes

  • Pay attention to your moods and feelings. Don’t assume your negative thoughts or feelings are just part of being a teenager. If you’re worried about something, ask for help.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you can’t talk to your parents, talk to a favorite teacher or counselor at school. Talk to your family doctor or health care provider. Find an adult you can trust. If you’re feeling really sad or are thinking about harming yourself, get help right away.

  • Accept yourself. If you feel like you have low self-esteem or a poor body image, talk to someone about it. Even just talking to a friend can help.

  • Don’t bully other people. And if you are being bullied, tell a parent, teacher, or other adult. This includes being bullied online or on your phone.


Behavioral health: Taking care of your safety through your behaviors

  • Avoid substance use or abuse. This includes alcohol, street drugs, other people’s prescription drugs, and any type of tobacco product or vaping.

  • Drive safely. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in U.S. teenagers. Always use your seat belt. Avoid riding in a car full of other teenagers. This can distract the driver and make an accident more likely. Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.

  • Wear protective headgear. Wear a helmet when you are riding a bike or participating in sports to head injuries.

  • Avoid violence. Stay away from situations where violence or fighting may cause you to be physically injured.

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