Youth & Adolescent Health
Children and youth are growing and their bodies are changing, so this is an important stage of life to adopt healthy habits. If you live well when you are young, you are more likely to stay well as you get older.
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Fitness Benefits for Children & Youth
- Teens and young adults, both male and female, benefit from physical activity.
- Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial.
- Moderate amounts of daily physical activity are recommended for people of all ages. This amount can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes, or in shorter sessions of more intense activities, such as jogging or playing basketball for 15-20 minutes.
- Greater amounts of physical activity are even more beneficial, up to a point. Excessive amounts of physical activity can lead to injuries, menstrual abnormalities and bone weakening.
- Nearly half of American youth aged 12-21 years are not vigorously active on a regular basis. About 14 percent of young people report no recent physical activity. Inactivity is more common among females (14%) than males (7%) and among black females (21%) than white females (12%).
- Participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age or grade in school increases.
- Only 19 percent of all high school students are physically active for 20 minutes or more, five days a week, in physical education classes.
- Daily enrollment in physical education classes dropped from 42 percent to 25 percent among high school students between 1991 and 1995.
- Well-designed, school-based interventions directed at increasing physical activity in physical education classes have proven effective.
- Social support from family and friends has been consistently and positively related to regular physical activity.
BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
- Helps control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat.
- Prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure, and helps reduce blood pressure in some adolescents with hypertension.
Medical Care and Your 13-18 Year-Old
By meeting annually with your teen, the doctor can keep track of changes in physical, mental, and social development and offer advice against unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking. The doctor also can help your child understand the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition, proper exercise and safety measures.The more that teens understand about their physical growth and sexual development, the more they will recognize the importance of active involvement in their own health care.
What to Expect at the Doctor's Office
Teens should visit their doctors annually. At least three of these visits should include a complete physical examination:
- one performed during early adolescence (ages 11 to 14)
- one during middle adolescence (ages 15 to 17)
- one during late adolescence/early adulthood (ages 18 to 21)
If your child has a chronic medical condition or if certain clinical signs or symptoms are present, more frequent exams might be needed.
Medical care should include screenings for high blood pressure, obesity, eating disorders, and, if indicated, hyperlipidemia (an excess of cholesterol and/or other fats in the blood). A tuberculin (PPD) test may be done if your teen is at risk for tuberculosis.
Your teen's doctor will also check his or her teeth for tooth decay, abnormal tooth development, malocclusion (abnormal bite), dental injuries and other problems. Your teen should also continue to have regular checkups with your dentist.
Vision and hearing will be checked. Teens are also checked for scoliosis (curvature of the spine).