Most teen girls ignore exercise & nutritional needs: can you spot what's missing in your teen's lifestyle? Good nutrition and exercise top the list. (Lifestyle Corner).
Yet both -- good nutrition and exercise -- are vital to your daughter's long-term health. Exercise, for instance, helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, control weight and prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure. In fact, the amount of exercise a teenage girl gets between the ages of 12 and 18 is a critical factor in preventing hip fractures after menopause.
Good nutrition is also critical since a teenage girl grows faster during adolescence than at any other time in her life save for infancy. That requires a mountain of vitamins and minerals best found in food, as well as an average of 2,200 calories a day. But too often, teenage girls don't get enough of these crucial micronutrients. They're often deficient in calcium, for instance, because they dramatically cut back on the amount of milk they drink once they hit their teenage years. Yet almost half a woman's bone mass is formed during adolescence, and low intakes of calcium today may lead to osteoporosis tomorrow.
Girls also don't get enough iron. This is a problem because not only do they lose iron through menstruation, but since they may be dieting or not eating a varied diet, they don't get enough iron-rich foods like red meat. While the health risks are clear -- anemia, for one -- one study found that even a mild iron deficiency could result in lower test scores in math, one possible explanation for why teenage girls tend to do worse than boys in math.
That's why it's up to parents to provide a healthy diet for their daughters (and sons), one that includes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and three, eight-ounce glasses of milk.
To get your teen connected to good nutrition:
* Make it easy. Keep nutritional snacks like cut-up fruit, pretzels, cheese sticks, individual yogurts and butter-free popcorn, on hand.
* Nix the soft drinks. Don't even keep them in the house.
* Get her in the kitchen. Put her in charge of some of the family's meals and grocery shopping so she learns how to prepare and enjoy healthful and nutritious food choices.
* Set an example. Even if family dinners are rushed, they can still be nutritious. When you eat out, encourage her to choose healthy selections, like salads and stir-fried vegetables. x
RELATED ARTICLE: Tips To Get Your Daughter Moving
Whether it's on organized teams or through individual sports or exercise programs, the main message to your daughter should be to get out and move. Here's how:
* Encourage her to try new, physically active activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, skiing or snowboarding.
* Make exercise a family affair--find a physical activity everyone enjoys and do it together.
* Give her a pedometer and challenge her to collect at least 11,000 to 12,000 steps a day (the amount recommended for adolescents). Once she hits that figure, challenge her to do more.
By Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH
NWHRC Medical Advisor
Dr. Peeke is a Pew Foundation Scholar in Nutrition and Metabolism, and Assistant clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She writes about health and lifestyle issues important to all women.
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|Publication:||National Women's Health Report|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2002|
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