Every single day, people make choices about their health – whether they will eat fast food or healthy food, how early to go to bed, how much exercise they will get and even whether they will participate in more harmful activities such as vaping, drinking, drugs, etc. With today’s medical advances and technology, we know more than ever before about how to take care of the human body. It is possible to prevent many diseases or illnesses that would inhibit someone from being their best self.
Marlee Saxon, 10, emphasizes the importance of healthy living, even as a teenager.
“It’s important because if I’m not healthy, then I won’t be able to do the things that I love or want to do in life,” Saxon said.
According to a survey of 294 students, they said they feel very knowledgeable when it comes to decisions in most aspects of their health. However, only 52 percent of those students said they nearly always use that knowledge to actually make a decision about their health.
It can be hard to emphasize health as a teenager, and Audrey Griffin, 11, admitted that she struggles with it.
Griffin said, “I eat some healthy foods, but [when I don’t eat healthy] it’s usually because I’m busy and don’t have time to make something healthy. Sometimes [it causes me to not have] as much energy.”
However, one distinct factor that tends to influence teenagers is who they are surrounded by.
Registered float nurse and mother of teens, Heather Dent, agreed and said, “So, how much water you drink, how much sleep you get, all of those are great things. But it’s also being cognizant of how you spend your time, what you surround yourself with [and the] people you choose to spend time with.”
In high school, peer pressure comes into play for many teens when they choose to do something they would typically avoid. However, their peers who do not approve are not always aware of the influences of others.
“I think peer pressure impacts people’s choices through social media and just through observing your friends do other things. Obviously, if your friends are doing something, you’re going to want to do it too to feel involved and to feel included,” said Olivia Amos, 11. “Because I’m friends with a lot of people, it’s been hard for me to be around them sometimes because of the activities that they choose to partake in, and sometimes it can be tough to make the right decision.”
Making the right decision is not always easy, especially when it comes to something so serious, but so popular – vaping. PE and health teacher, Jamie Oshel said she believes it is the number one issue facing teens.
“I’m not a fan of it just because I know what it can do. I’ve seen the health sides of it. It’s not good; you guys are just kids, so your brains are still developing. You’re not totally aware of what could happen,” said Oshel.
What may seem like a one-time thing, or something that teenagers only do with friends, can turn into a habit, so it is vital that they make wise decisions when it comes to being their best, healthiest selves.
Dent explained, “Those decade-long habits can really wreak havoc on your health. So, you guys have a really great opportunity to make decisions at [this age] on how you’re going to live your life. What habits are you going to put in place? Drinking enough water, eating right, making sure you’re eating enough vegetables to help your cells motion as well as they can [are all factors of a healthy lifestyle].”
To prevent diseases and illnesses from limiting teens later in life, they must take into account the risks associated with the decision to drink, vape, smoke, etc.
High school nurse Laurie Brueckner said she witnessed some harmful effects of drinking during her time as a nurse on the cardiac and liver floors in a hospital. Witnessing these things in real life can change someone’s perspective and understanding of how dangerous these activities truly are.
“It definitely opens your eyes. It reminds you that bad choices now, even though it doesn’t feel like your body is affected by it in the long term, if you make chronic bad choices, you could have health problems in the future. So, it’s important to take care of your body now, so that you can enjoy your life for many years, and so you don’t have chronic health problems when you’re older,” said Brueckner.
Smoking, drinking, doing drugs, etc. are all things that contribute to lung disease, COPD, liver disease, constant checkups, inhalers and chronic illnesses. When contracted, these diseases reduce someone’s quality of life.
Being healthy is a day-to-day commitment, and teenagers are blessed to have the chance to carve their own path in life. They have many opportunities to develop good, long-lasting habits in life. Each day, remember that future health is defined by what is done today and every day. Seek out people who want the best for each other, understand the risks of every choice and know that preventing long term health limitations starts today.