Let’s face it. Teenagers are probably more interested in texting their friends, going to a high school game, or hanging out at the mall than thinking about how to stay healthy. But the decisions they make today about a whole host of behaviors will make a big difference once they become adults. That is why it is important for teens to stay healthy now so they won’t be fighting certain chronic diseases when they get older.
“Healthy habits that start young will pay off in the long run,” says Clara Osuji, M.D., internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “Using tobacco at a young age, for example, can increase the risk for heart disease, cancer or stroke in adults. Just like studying for a test ahead of time can help you get a better grade, being healthy as a teenager can help you be a healthier adult.”
Dr. Osuji offers the following tips for teens on how to stay healthy:
- Don’t let peer pressure push you into using any kind of tobacco product, alcohol, drugs or sex.
- Exercise regularly and see your doctor for routine medical checkups.
- Always wear a seat belt when in a car and use protective gear as necessary when participating in sports activities.
- Do not drink and drive. Do not get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Try to limit sweets and high-fat foods.
- Talk to your parents, doctor or school counselor if you are feeling especially sad or depressed.
“It may be difficult or embarrassing to talk to someone about a health issue you are having, but as your doctor, physicians are there to listen to you and to help you get back to health. When it comes to your health, there is no such thing as a stupid question.” adds Dr. Osuji. “By making mindful lifestyle choices and getting the support they need, teens can safeguard their health so they can enjoy spending time with friends and family and leading successful lives as adults.”
For a referral to a physician who has expertise in caring for teenagers, call the free physician referral service at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital at 800-681-2733 or visit www.cyfairhospital.com/physician.