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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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Signs of Too Much Stress continued...

When you talk, explain that stress can lead to unhealthy habits like eating junk food and choosing to play video games instead of exercising, which actually could make them feel better.

Movement and exercise are great choices for dealing with stress. Let them know that exercise can trigger "feel-good" chemicals in their brain that should make them feel better. Then work with them to come up with ways to get movement into their day. 

Besides helping their moods, movement is important for teens’ health. Teens need to get 60 minutes of exercise throughout the day. Pushups in the morning, shooting hoops after school, a family walk after dinner -- it all adds up. Plus, people who are active are more likely to make better food choices. Teens who fuel their bodies right will have the energy they need to tackle their busy days. That’s a positive cycle.

To Manage Stress, Set Priorities

Teach your teen how to cut down on activities; that can also help relieve some pressure if they're stressed out.

"When parents say, 'That's too much, you have to choose,' you're helping kids learn how to prioritize, which is a very important skill they're going to need for the rest of their lives," says Roni Cohen-Sandler, PhD, author of Stressed-Out Girls.

Sit down with your teen and help her decide which activities are most important to her -- which ones she likes the best. Then, work together to decide which ones to continue and which ones to stop.

If your teen plays sports, limit them to one per season. Do the same with other commitments. Try to have at least one day where she comes home without any scheduled activities. On those days, encourage your teen to find healthy, unstructured ways to relax. Explain to her that listening to soothing music or taking a stroll in nature would be good ways to chill.

Cutting back on commitments can also help make sure your teen gets at least 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep a night. Not enough sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Plus, when they don't get enough sleep, they’re also more likely to eat unhealthy foods and not want to move.

 

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