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Cheer!In a recent study, the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that 70% of kids are out of shape.  And what’s worse, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that between 16 and 33 % of children and adolescents are obese.  These statistics are frightening, but they don’t have to rule your life.  Here are 5 quick ideas to stay fit and healthy:

  1. Drink water instead of soda. You'll find about 400 calories in a 32-ounce "extra-large" Coke that you might get at a fast food restaurant. That's nearly a fifth of the calories an average teenage girl needs in a whole day.  Think water is boring?  Pour in a low calorie drink mix.  They come in small, individual packages and a ton of great flavors.

  2. “Buy” TV and video game time with physical exercise. Make a deal with yourself that you will do some amount of physical exercise before allowing yourself to veg out on the couch.  According to Government Guidelines, the Health and Human Services Department has set a minimum allotment for teens of at least an hour a day of rigorous physical activity.  One hour of physical activity such as playing sports, running in PE class or doing an exercise video (try Empowering Pilates for Teens!) could “buy” you an hour or more of TV or video game time.

  3. Snack on fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods instead of French fries and potato chips.  During adolescence a person's body demands more nutrients to grow, and snacks can be a wonderful way to get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. But watch out!  High fat snacks will only slow you down in the long run, adding extra calories without the benefits of extra nutrients.  Instead, try snacking on whole grain pretzels, a banana or home made granola.

  4. Go to bed on time.  That’s a hard one when there’s homework to do, volleyball practice to attend, and maybe even an after school job.  But lack of sleep can be down right dangerous.  The National Sleep Foundation cited that drowsiness or fatigue has been identified as a principle cause in at least 100,000 traffic crashes each year.  Not to mention the negative effect that sleep deprivation has on school performance and mood as well as increasing the risk of stimulant use.  So, sleep!  Take a nap if you have to.  Your health depends on it.

  5. Love yourself!  Thankfully, God has created each of us differently. Try giving yourself three compliments everyday.  And if there are things about yourself that you want to change and can, such as becoming more physically fit, set a goal.  Keep track of your progress and enjoy the journey!  By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.
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