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Healthy Living Tips for Teenagers

By Lindsay Boyers

The teenage years are a period of intense physical, emotional, mental and intellectual growth. It’s also a time when your child develops habits that can last a lifetime. You can help your teenager reach optimal growth and development by instilling lifestyle habits that support a healthy and happy body.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

NHS Choices recommends that teens get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Most teens fall short, however. According to the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity survey, teenagers only eat about half of the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals your teen’s body needs to grow and function properly. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables also helps keep your teen full without providing excess calories that can lead to weight gain.

Get Your Behind Moving

Exercise does more than burn calories. Engaging in physical activity helps keep the heart and lungs strong and produces endorphins -- chemicals that improve mood. A well-balanced exercise routine includes aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility training, such as yoga or pilates. According to the Kids Health, a website presented by the Nemours Foundation, teens should engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day.

Watch What You Drink

Your body is almost two-thirds water, so staying hydrated is important. Teenagers should aim to drink six to eight glasses of water per day, according to the British Nutrition Foundation. That number increases for teens who engage in sports or are especially active. Other good sources of fluid include 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk. Sugary and caffeinated beverages should be limited or eliminated from the diet completely as they provide excess sugar and empty calories.

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose

According to Cleveland Clinic, teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep each night to function at their best during the day. It sounds easy enough, but with early school start times, late afternoon practices and hours of homework, getting enough sleep can be a challenge. Set a regular bedtime time that allows for nine hours of sleep before your teen has to get up for school. Your teen should also engage in at least an hour of “quiet time” prior to bedtime. The goal is for all electronics to be turned off for the night so that the brain and body to relax. Quiet time may involve listening to soothing music or reading a book.

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