In today’s generation, the battle against teenage drinking, smoking, and other risky behaviors is an ongoing struggle. Parents, siblings, teachers and friends are often forced to handle situations far beyond their means.
Sometimes the behavior is less extreme, however. It begins as a small funk; a general loss of motivation, moodiness, fatigue… It is important to notice these signs early, even if there seems to be little risk to his or her long-term health.
The best way to battle negative or dangerous behaviors is by doing so long before the problem arises, by instilling a sincere interest in healthy habits. University of Essex studies have shown that teens who maintain a healthy diet and some sort of exercise routine are happier, and less likely to slide into some of the more dangerous habits.
To clarify, maintaining a healthy diet does not mean maintaining a narrow waistline. Media today portrays healthy foods and exercise routines as a means to look your best. While this is certainly the end result, a proper, balanced diet does much more for the body and mind. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and natural sugars, such as fruit and vegetables, leave the body feeling more energized, alert and clean. Apples and other fruits are also great sources for positive energy, and the saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ was not said in jest. Leafy, dark green vegetables provide the body with iron, vitamin B-12 and many other important nutrients. Fibers cleanse the digestive system, citrus are rich in Vitamin C, bananas improve muscle health, etc.
By combining a love of a balanced diet and the feeling it gives the body with physical activity, you strengthen not only the physical side of your teen, but the emotional as well. Don’t force your child to run every day. Find an activity that he or she enjoys; a sport, a dance class… Exercise routines vary from Zumba to yoga, to aerobics, swimming, basketball, Pilates, soccer, martial arts, bike riding and even just jumping rope in the back yard. The physical activity will do wonders for your child’s health. It will improve his or her self-image, self-respect, self-confidence, competitiveness, focus and personal discipline, as well as boost his or her general mood by releasing endorphins, or ‘happy hormones.’ Of course, the benefits to the body are incomparable as well.
A healthy, confident, happy person, be it a child, teen or adult, is more likely to pursue his or her interests, cope with stress and make mature decisions without dabbling in more dangerous behaviors such as under aged or irresponsible drinking, smoking, or drug abuse.