The Significance of Maintaining Healthy Habits for Teens

Adolescents must recognize the importance of developing consistent habits regarding health and the benefits that this will have on them. It is often very difficult to sustain balance, but it will have a positive impact on one’s way of life. Health teacher Jenn Kramer believes that students should strive to pay more attention to their health and be more appreciative of their overall wellbeing. She says, “A major theme in life is taking care of physical and mental health equally. Without health, we have nothing.”

With homework, sports, clubs, and other extra-curricular activities, it is extremely difficult to organize planned meals and proper sleep schedules. Most high schoolers do not receive the recommended amount of sleep daily. The amount of sleep an average high schooler obtains will have an influence on his/her strength, mindset, and ordinary functions that the body relies upon. According to the Sleep Advisor’s website, “The reality is that while eight hours may be the ideal for adults, this amount isn’t enough for adolescents. Instead, they should get nine to ten hours of rest each night.” Nine to ten hours of sleep will tremendously benefit teens physically, as well as emotionally.

Sleep patterns can depict a student’s mood as well as his/her ability to concentrate and his/her memory or ability to recall specific information. In an article published by The New York Times (nytimes.com) on May 22, 2017, entitled “The Science of Adolescent Sleep,” it said, “Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, ‘Sleep is critical to maintain focus and alertness, to repair and maintain brain cells, to clear out toxic metabolites.’” The professor reiterated the importance of sleep and the negative effects that will occur as a result of sleep deprivation.

Freshman Garrett Reid, a member of the junior varsity soccer team, said, “I usually get five to six hours of sleep each school night.” This exemplifies the struggle most high school athletes face between sports and homework. A Wall Street Journal article on September 27, 2022, entitled, “Starting School Before 8 a.m. Can Be Harmful to Teens, Sleep Scientists Say,” claims that “the percentage of U.S. high-school students who don’t get enough sleep—fewer than eight hours—grew from 69% to 78% between 2009 and 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Students are motivated to participate in sports, embrace athleticism, get involved in clubs, and complete homework, but they are risking their physical and mental stability by not sleeping enough. Ironically, many students are unaware that sleep can also affect their grades and performance during school or other pursuits.

Your perception of life affects you more than you realize. As a human being, you must be grateful of your qualities and abilities, which allow you to do many things that you would not be able to do if you did not have good health.”

— Rocky Romano, LHS Class of '24

While sleep is crucial to an adolescent, other aspects of health, such as optimal nutrition and mental health, are also important. Meals with sufficient nutrients play a vital role in a teen’s energy levels, mindset, feelings, and growth/development. As claimed in the June 20, 2022, Healthline article (healthline.com)“Healthy Eating for Teens: A Complete Guide,” “A diet high in nutritious foods can benefit teens’ overall health, but a diet that lacks essential nutrients or provides inadequate calorie intake can directly affect cognitive performance, mood, metabolic health, and more.” This reflects the common saying “What you eat is what you are.” For teenagers, this statement applies more than it does to any other age group because many adolescents are still growing. At this age, more than any other, people should focus on effective habits and recognize patterns that are significant to overall health.

High school students should be more mindful of what they eat each day. A proper meal should consist of balanced elements, but teens often consume foods that are not healthy or beneficial. According to the World Health Organization’s website (who.int), “Consuming a healthy diet throughout the life-course helps to prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions. However, increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization, and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns.”  A balanced meal should include protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and minimized amounts of sugar and salt. Creating meal plans or schedules with the components needed for a balanced diet will increase one’s regular energy levels and physical strength.

Junior Raquel Romano is an active member of the LHS student body, as well as an athlete, who is a member of the girls’ varsity golf and tennis teams. She is also the secretary of Key Club, a member of the student government, and vice president of Scope. Romano is aware of the value of mental health and the influence that one’s mindset has on varying topics from nutrition to daily tasks. Romano says, “Your perception of life affects you more than you realize. As a human being, you must be grateful of your qualities and abilities, which allow you to do many things that you would not be able to do if you did not have good health.” The average teenager does not realize how his/her their health can impact him/her or the influence that one’s mindset can have on him/her. A positive mindset will always give an individual the advantage.

Kramer demonstrates the connection between physical health and mental health to her students with the use of Jenga blocks. Each block serves as a symbolic representation of certain health components. Just as new blocks are added on the Jenga tower, different health factors are added to one’s life. Kramer informs students that they should not be afraid to ask for help when their “pieces” have “fallen,” but she also encourages them to find balance independently in a manner that will benefit them.

Maintaining balance is very challenging and complicated, especially for teenagers with crammed academic schedules and numerous extra-curricular obligations. Health is the most important factor in life. Having good health enables individuals to successfully complete countless tasks/activities. There are always things that one can improve with respect to his/her wellbeing as a high school student who is still learning and developing. Try sleeping for at least nine hours a few times a week, and plan meals ahead of time to take charge of your health. You will feel a drastic difference!