The population of teens is varied in respect to where they are in their knowledge of health and fitness. Pressure from peers and society may push certain teens to bypass solid nutrition and exercise and attempt unsafe practices.
Fad diets are rampant and without adult supervision, could result in poor nutrition. Resistance training should be utilized under adult, trained supervision to ensure proper and safe techniques are being used.
Most teenagers have a very tenuous self image. This is understandable because their bodies are changing daily, including their weight and size. Muscles, glands and fat pads begin to appear. New hormones are at work and each day carries the possibility of pimple breakouts and mood swings. Sixty percent of teenage girls who are in the normal weight range view themselves as overweight. Boys, on the other hand, view themselves as underweight.
In their formative years, teens are impressed by family, friends and the media. These form the basis of their self image and contribute to how they will approach their personal body image.
Many teens are left to the education provided by our schools, however positive or lacking it may be. Physical education teachers are in the perfect position to educate teens in health, nutrition and exercise. Our schools could provide a safe place to learn and apply all the elements of a fitness program, including resistance training. School systems that drop these programs from their curriculum are dropping the ball in the game of life. This education could make a difference between living a life of health and wellness or obesity and disease. This education could, in the long run, affect our nation’s health care system for the positive.
Foods can be a major pre-occupation in a teen’s lifestyle. Foods can be used as coping tools in teens that have low self-esteem and image problems.
Sometimes the exercise level may be adequate, but the teen has a high intake of high fat, calorie dense snacks. Many teen’s view of calories and food are distorted by rumors or half-truths about how much and what kind of foods they really need to eat.
Some teens will diet out of peer pressure. They feel the need to go to the extreme to become thin. They may binge and purge, which is called bulimia, and/or limit food intake to dangerously low levels which is called anorexia nervosa. Some teens will exercise excessively to lose weight. All of these weight loss methods are dangerous and these teens may require professional help to save their lives.
Teens should include these four words into their fitness vocabulary: ACCEPTANCE: believing in what God gave them. This means working with what they have, not with what they don’t have. CHANGE: working with what you have. This means, enhancing the best of what a teen has by balancing exercise and physical activity with food intake. CONSISTENCY: in their approach to eating and exercise, including being sensible. FITNESS EDUCATION: pursuing the knowledge required to become fit and healthy for a lifetime.
Therefore, teens would be able to enter the adult world with a firm foundation to build the rest of their healthy and fit future.