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Adolescence is the time when lifelong health behaviours are set in place. However, it is also a time for teenage tantrums, stubbornness, and intense hormone changes. Just when healthy eating habits and physical activity should be at their peak, for some teenagers it goes the opposite way and, in fact, one in four school pupils aged 11-15 is obese.

With most children unlikely to return to school full-time before September, and young people having already been stuck at home for months due to the COVID-19 lockdown, addressing teenage health is more pertinent now than ever. Here, Simon Bandy of Health Plus offers his top five tips to parents on how to help adolescents get into shape both physically and mentally.

Sleep - Teenagers need more sleep than adults as their bodies and minds are growing and a good eight to ten hours is recommended each night. Try to make their bedroom a tech-free zone at bedtime, removing gaming consoles, phones and tablets. It could even become a great family habit that helps you too if you’re guilty of checking emails or social media in bed. Furthermore, this tactic might even help get youngsters up earlier in the morning as they’ll be eager to check-in with their friends online!

Physical exercise - In some homes, the word exercise can glean a Kevin & Perry-esque reaction. Adolescents should be getting at least 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day so, for those youngsters who simply dread being dragged out for a family walk, try to make it more than just exercise - go for an off-road adventure on the bikes through a local forest, invite their friends over (social-distancing allowing) for an at home disco, invest in a trampoline for the garden, walk with them rather than drive them to their friend’s house if it’s just a few miles away, or encourage them to cycle there instead.

Communication - Having a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship during the teenage years is more important than ever. Not dissimilar to the terrible twos, it’s a time when children are doing exciting new things, but they’re also pushing boundaries (and buttons) as they start to assert their independence. Try to be observant, genuinely take time to listen and don’t dictate, validate their feelings and control your own, and show them you trust them. Just like in their younger years, praise is also crucial - they may act like they are too cool to care what mum and dad think but deep down they still need and want your approval.

Hygiene - It’s parenting 101 to teach your child good hygiene when they’re younger - washing hands, covering their mouth when they cough, and having regular baths or showers. However, all of a sudden, the teenage years hit, and these basic principles often seem to fall off their radar. To get your teenager to maintain and even increase their hygiene levels, make sure you talk to them regularly about the changes the body goes through during puberty and what to expect, and always lead by example. If issues still arise, try letting them pick out their own bathroom products as they will be more eager to use them.

Diet - A healthy diet is crucial when it comes to teenage health but sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t always control what your teenager consumes. Try Health Plus’ Teenage Pack supplements (£12.95 / 28-day supply). Packed full of essential vitamins, it’s specially designed for today's teenagers and helps balance hormones as the body changes and puberty hits.

For more information on Health Plus and to see its full range of products please visit www.healthplus.co.uk.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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