With so many fad diets and fitness trends on the market, it can be daunting for teens to figure out the best ways to stay fit. The good news? Being healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. There are several simple ways you can incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle.
A Balanced Diet
It can be tempting to think that foods labeled “low-fat” or “diet” are automatically better for you; however, these foods tend to be highly processed and low in nutrients. Instead, try eating mostly whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, fish and whole grains instead of sugary drinks, processed meats and potato chips. Achieving a balanced diet also means having a healthy relationship with food: instead of viewing food as your enemy, remember that healthy foods keep your body and mind nourished. And, rather than eating meals while texting your friends or browsing online, which is associated with less healthy food choices, try to sit down at the table and simply enjoy and appreciate your food.
An Active Lifestyle
Teens should engage in about an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Seem like a lot? Choose activities you love, and fitness will be easier to integrate into your routine. Research also shows that small bursts of exercise scattered throughout your day are just as effective for your health as longer bouts. For example, do jumping jacks during the commercial breaks of your favorite show, take the stairs instead of the elevator or surprise your parents by offering to vacuum!
A Good Night's Sleep
Although it can sometimes be tempting to stay up late, getting enough sleep is crucial for your health. In fact, sleep deprivation is associated with higher rates of obesity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should get around nine hours of sleep per night. To make sure you get a sound slumber, adopt good sleep habits. For example, go to bed at the same time every night, try not to watch T.V. or browse on your cell phone in bed and make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet when you go to sleep.
A Healthy Mind
The more you believe in your ability to make healthy choices, the more motivated you will be to create positive habits in your life. However, from time to time, everyone experiences moments of negative self-talk -- saying things like “I’ll never be able to jog for 20 minutes." Remember that these thoughts are normal and be gentle on yourself. If you notice your negative thoughts persisting for more than a week, or if they are seriously interfering with your ability to adopt healthy habits, find someone you can talk to -- like a school counselor or an adult you trust.
- Journal of Pediatric Nursing: Psychosocial Correlates of Healthy Beliefs, Choice, and Behaviors in Overweight and Obese School-Age Children: A Primary Care Healthy Choices Intervention Pilot Study
- The Journal of the American Medical Association: Weight Loss Strategies for Adolescents: A 14-Year-Old Struggling to Lose Weight
- Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: Associations of Television Viewing With Eating Behaviors in the 2009 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children Study
- Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine: Diet, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behaviors as Risk Factors for Overweight in Adolescence
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Effects of Long versus Short Bout Exercise on Fitness and Weight Loss in Overweight Females
- National Sleep Foundation: Sleep in America Poll