You come home from a long day at school. Changing into some workout clothes, you fill up your bottle of water and go for a run. If not, you go to the gym, or some form of exercise club. When you get home, you grab an apple and help your mom make a lentil lasagne for dinner. While it cooks, you go upstairs and do your homework. After dinner, you do the dishes and then watch television for an hour. You then get your stuff ready for school the next day, and go to bed at 9 to ensure that you get at least 9 hours sleep.
Does this sound like your evenings? If so then well done, if not, you’re probably no different to the majority of kids your age. This however, does not make it right. The average teen gets around 7 hours of sleep, when in reality, they need between 9 and 9 half hours. But why do kids stay up so late?
It is said that teens are spending an average of 9 hours consuming media each day. Whether it be listening to music, watching videos, texting, reading etc. But do they spend the same amount of time sleeping? Maybe parents should allow their kids a certain amount of tv/mobile phone time each day, or maybe the teen can do it themself! If you say to yourself, ‘Okay so I’ll spend 2 hours on homework, and then watch an hour long tv program and spend an hour on my phone.’ By organising and having structure, we can ensure that there is a balance.
Diet is also a major problem with Britain’s teens. If you go to LA, you’ll find Smoothie Stops around every corner. Here you’ll more than likely find a Mcdonalds or a KFC. Obesity is responsible for about 1 in 10 deaths in Britain, and costs the NHS £5.1 billion each year.
But let’s be honest. You can go to Mcdonalds and get a cheeseburger for 99p. But if you want to go to subway, for a healthier sandwich, you’re looking at £3.50. It’s not hard to see why teens are more likely to go to Mcdonalds than Subway. It’s “Cheap and Cheerful.” Fast food that tastes nice, but not at a large price.
So how can we solve the problem?
Britain needs healthier takeaway places. We have Vegetarians, Pescatarians, Flexitarians, Pollotarians, Vegans and a whole lot more. What do we have for them? We need to start catering for the minority, and even if you do eat meat, you should still be able to eat somewhere healthy that isn’t three times the price. Eating healthy should be a cheap and easy option. It’s also important that the food tastes nice. Nobody is going to choose dairy free chocolate over the normal one, because it taste’s unpleasant in comparison. We need to make our teens eat healthy because they want to. You’re much more likely to do something if you enjoy it, than if you have to.
Exercise is a vital element of staying fit. Sure, kids have PE, but do they enjoy it? Teens should have a range of activities they can do in PE, it shouldn’t just be a case of today everyone’s going to do this or that sport weather you like it or not. because we’re all different and enjoy different things.
It’s a known fact that girls exercise a lot less than guys, a problem that the government is now addressing with nationwide media coverage of the women’s national football and cricket team. The idea is that by exposing girls to women participating in sports, they’ll be influenced to start sports themselves. It’s a step in the right direction but a bigger step would be to provide PE activities that girls enjoy. Like what? Well a lot of girls like dancing to music so why not incorporate dance classes or aerobic into PE for girls. I’ve taken dance classes, and found it really enjoyable. The secret to winning this battle of getting girls to exercise is to give them an activity they enjoy so you won’t have to push them to do it.
We also need more youth gyms. You can’t join the majority of gyms unless you’re 16, and under 16’s need to exercise as well. Perhaps there should be specific days at the gym where under 16’s can work out. Sure there needs to be an age limit, maybe 12-16, and there could be a set day and time every week where teens in this age group are able to use the gym for a small fee. Teens need to be encouraged to exercise and stay fit. A lot of clubs say that the first lesson is free, which is great! This allows the child to experience the sport and see if they like it with nothing to lose. The gyms should also do girls only sessions, as some girls may feel self-conscious, and having a girls only session will encourage them to go to the gym more. Gyms should also have free aerobics sessions for girls. You may think that they’ll lose money, but the money will be gained by less obesity health issues, the NHS won’t have to spend so much money on obesity illness, and childhood obesity won’t be as common.
The last topic I want to cover is water. Teens nowadays consume large amounts of juices and fizzy drinks that are full of sugar. The healthiest option is to drink water. Our bodies are made up of 70% water which goes down throughout the day as we sweating and moving and general living. This needs replacing to stop us dehydrating. I try to drink at least 2 litres a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, but at least two litres. We could also lower the prices of water to make it more accessible.
Some water drinking tips that helped me.
1 Drink while you exercise.
I consume a lot of water when I’m working out. When you’re out of breath, it’s a lot easy to drink water than when you’re laying at home in front of the tv.
2 Add stuff to your water.
This doesn’t help me personally, but I know a lot of people that find it useful. Some people add a slice of lemon, which is great for clearing your system, but you can use whatever fruit you want. Strawberries, blueberries you can even add cucumber. People like add honey, which gives the water a bit of flavour.
3 Get a bottle.
Getting a bottle really helped me drink a lot more water. It was easier because I can carry the bottle around with me instead of constantly having to fill up a glass. Sometimes I drink two 1 litre bottles, or four 500ml bottles. It depends on what’s easier for you.
4 Dilute your juice
It can be pretty hard to go straight from fizzy drinks to water, so try diluting your fruit juice or fizzy drinks with a little water and then day by day, add a little more water until there is more water than juice. You’ll be drinking just water before you know it.
Being healthy can be fun and enjoyable, but it’s up to you. Being healthy isn’t easy, as we naturally choose the unhealthy option, but you can do it with determination and perseverance. Having good health has countless benefits, and your body will thank you. Eating junk and not exercising may seem fine now, but when you get older, you’ll feel it.
I strongly believe that if you get teens active while they’re young, it’ll be a lot easier than getting them while they’re older.