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Health and Fitness in Adolescence

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  • 0:01 Adolescence
  • 1:14 Sports & Fitness
  • 2:57 Nutrition
  • 4:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Adolescence is a time of great physical change. However, many adolescents struggle with weight. Watch this lesson to learn more about those weight issues, including how they can fight obesity and issues with eating disorders.

Adolescence

Jessie is 16, and she's going through some changes. She's started her period, and she's fighting acne for the first time in her life. Not only that, her body is growing softer, and she's filling out in the chest and hips. She looks more like a woman than a girl.

But lately, Jessie has been gaining lots of weight. Not just her chest and hips are filling out; she's getting larger and larger everywhere. Jessie is in adolescence, which is the time of life between childhood and adulthood. Generally, adolescence lasts from about age 13 to age 20. During adolescence, people go through some major body changes. Like Jessie, they start looking more adult and less like children, and they become able to reproduce.

With these changes, though, come some problems. One major problem that is facing America's adolescents is obesity, or having too much fat. Though some fat is healthy, adolescents who are obese have a large amount of fat, and this causes many health problems. Let's look at two ways that adolescents like Jessie can fight obesity: fitness and nutrition.

Sports and Fitness

Jessie is very smart. She likes to read and gets As in all her classes. But she'd rather read or do homework than work out, which is part of why she's gaining weight.

Fitness, or the condition of being physically fit and healthy, is a key component in the fight against obesity. By exercising several days per week, Jessie can start to look and feel better. She'll find that she has more energy and is physically stronger. She'll likely shed fat. Not only that, but she might even find that she is even better at school because physical fitness is linked with cognitive (or intellectual) prowess.

There are many ways that Jessie can become fit. She can run or walk, lift weights, dance, do aerobics, try yoga or a number of other things. One fun and easy way for her to be more physically active is to participate in sports, like tennis, basketball or soccer.

Many schools and after-school programs offer sports programs for adolescents. The problem is that not that many teens participate in sports. As teens get older, the competitive level of sports gets higher. For example, a little league baseball team may allow all members to play during the course of a game, regardless of talent.

But by high school, most baseball teams only allow the most talented players to play. This is true for many sports, and as a result, someone like Jessie might feel like she shouldn't even try to participate. But if Jessie can find a sport that she loves and is good at, she might be able to join a team and play. And if she does, she'll find a fun and social way to increase her fitness and help fight obesity.

Nutrition

Besides fitness, the other key component in fighting obesity is nutrition, or healthy eating. For example, Jessie loves to eat sweets: cakes, candies, cookies. All of these are okay in moderation, but she eats way too much of them and way too little in the way of vegetables and other healthy foods.

A healthy, well-balanced diet is important for everyone. If Jessie eats sensibly, she can lose weight and feel better. And, just as with fitness, healthy eating habits are linked to good grades and intellectual gains, so eating her veggies just might make Jessie smarter!

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