The keys to reaching or staying at a healthy weight are regular exercise and good
eating habits. Some people think exercise and good eating require lots of effort or
planning. But that's not true. In fact, the best way to work them into our lives is
by making small changes that gradually become part of our routine.
We've all succeeded in making changes that are now ingrained in our lifestyles
— learning to brush our teeth, for example. Here's the information you need
to make these other healthy habits just as easy.
Teens should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. Note the word "activity":
As long as you're getting your body moving, it doesn't have to mean doing complicated
exercises or hitting the gym every day. All that matters is that each week you get
the right balance of activity, including aerobic, strength building, and flexibility
exercise. Make exercise a
habit by scheduling some every day.
On days when you have soccer practice or an aerobics class, you may have no trouble
exercising for an hour or more. But most of us are busy, and 60 minutes a day of activity
seems like a lot of time. The good news is that it's OK to divide it into shorter
"exercise breaks" throughout the day.
Just as you might have a healthy snack to stop yourself getting hungry, exercise
snacks can keep energy levels high. So get up 15 minutes early and do some yoga or
other stretching activity. Fast walk or jog for 15 minutes at lunch. Do the same thing
after school — or walk or bike home. Add to that taking the stairs, gym class,
and walking between classes during the day, and you've probably reached your 60 minutes.
10 Exercise Tips
Here are 10 simple ways to make an exercise lifestyle change:
Start today. Go outside for a walk.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Instead of driving, walk or bike to places like school or a friend's house.
If you have to drive, park farther away than you need to and walk the extra distance,
if it's safe to do so.
Vacuum your room, wash the car, or mow the lawn. It's not a chore — it's
an exercise opportunity!
Limit your time watching TV; using your smartphone, computer, or other devices;
or playing video games (and when you do play, try interactive games that get you moving).
Try to keep screen time to no more than 2 hours a day, not including time spent doing
Dance. Even in the privacy of your room, letting loose to your favorite tunes
could help you burn more than 300 calories an hour!
Figure out what type of exercise interests you, then give it a try! Take it slow
if you've never done it before. And if you're nervous at first, find an exercise buddy
to join you. It's usually easier to stay motivated about exercise if you do something
you're interested in.
If you get bored or lose interest easily, alternate the kinds of activities you
do so they always feel fresh.
Be sure to include some activity that gets your heart beating faster, quickens
your breathing, and makes you sweat.
Good Eating Habits
Eating well doesn't mean dieting over and over again. In fact, studies have shown
that dieting often doesn't work — and diets may have the reverse effect, with
dieters gaining back more weight than before they started.
One reason diets don't work is because they can encourage people to think of foods
as "good" or "bad," when the truth is everything is OK in moderation. Diets also encourage
people to "give up" certain foods, which can make us feel more deprived. And not only
do we feel deprived, diets often deplete our bodies of important nutrients. Teens
should eat a variety of foods, and there's nothing wrong with the occasional treat.
A candy bar somehow tastes more special if we treat ourselves once in a while instead
of every day.
The best way to stay at a healthy weight (or lose weight if you need to) is to
make healthy food choices daily. For some of us, that means changing our mindset about
food. Instead of thinking of food emotionally (for example, as a reward for doing
well on a test or as a way to deal with stress), see it for what it is — a practical
way to fuel our bodies.
Here are 10 tips for making healthy eating a part of your life:
Replace soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks that are loaded with sugar
with water, low-fat milk, or sugar-free drinks.
Eat at least five servings
of fruit and vegetables a day. The fiber will fill you up and you'll get the nutrients
and flavors to keep your body satisfied.
Choose a variety of foods from all the different food groups - fruits and veggies,
grains, including whole grains, protein, and dairy. In addition to getting your fruits
and veggies, include whole grains and lean protein at each meal.
Make healthier fast-food choices. Pick a small, single-patty burger instead of
a large one and a side salad instead of fries. Stick to regular servings — don't
supersize! Better yet, avoid fast-food places whenever you can.
Keep healthy foods on hand. If your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices like
celery, raisins, and peanut butter you can make ants on a log instead of dipping into
the cookie jar (you may need to teach your parents a thing or two about food to be
sure they buy you the good stuff!).
Take your own good-for-you snacks and food on the road so you can avoid the vending
machine or convenience store. Try carrot sticks, a piece of fruit, or your own homemade
trail mix instead of cookies, chips, or processed foods that tend to be loaded with
fat and calories.
Eat when you're hungry. If you're tempted to eat because you're bored, that's
your mind telling you to find something else to do.
Don't eat meals or snacks while watching TV because you'll probably end up eating
more than you intend to.
Pay attention to portion sizes.
If a portion is large, cut it in half and put half aside for later — or split
it with a friend.
Use your creativity to come up with ways to fit exercise and healthy eating into
your life in a way that works for you. We're all different. Your best friend might
prefer to schedule some gym time while you'd rather take your Frisbee-playing dog
to the park. Knowing what's right for you will make it a lot easier to do!