Healthy Habits

Physical exams: You should have a general physical once a year. This will assure your health is good for participation in sports, evaluate your weight and help keep you healthy. These exams will include your heart, lungs, abdomen, skin, mouth, throat, arms, legs and spine. You should have a hearing and eye test, as well.

Female Pelvic Exams: Examination of a female's genitals is done to evaluate any abnormalities and to collect a pap smear. Some birth control options require a pelvic exam. A pap smear should be collected every three years when you turn 21 years old. It will look for cervical cancer. Other sexually transmitted infections can also be detected with a pelvic exam.

Breast Exams: Both males and females should examine their own breasts. Breast cancer is less common in males but can still occur. An exam in the office should start at age 20 and every three years after that. Mammograms should start at age 40 for women. Be aware of your family history of breast cancer. You might need genetic testing or more frequent exams if there is a strong family history of breast cancer.

Testicular Exams: Cancer of the testicles is the most frequent form of cancer in men under 40 years of age. It is important for males to report any lumps that are unusual. Young men should be taught how to examine themselves, and their health care provider will begin examinations in the teen years.

Sleep: The average teenager needs 9-10 hours of sleep every night. Sleep helps your body regenerate, grow and repair damage. If you do not get enough sleep you may notice more mood swings, inability to concentrate and poor test scores. You could become sick easier.

Eating: Eating healthy can be hard for a teenager. Many teens are so busy they grab whatever is available as they run out the door. Make sure you have time in the mornings for a healthy breakfast as this will kick start your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day. Limit your sugar as this can cause mood swings and slumps in your energy level. It can also make you gain weight if you are not physically active. Some teens try to control their weight by eating very little (anorexia) or throwing up after eating (bulimia). Doing this can cause serious health problems. There is a lot of information about healthy eating on the internet. Here is a site that might be helpful.

Exercise: Youth are recommended to have at least one hour of intense activity every day. Pick an activity you enjoy that gets your heart rate going and your breathing heavy. When you do something you enjoy, it is no longer work. Make sure you wear your safety equipment such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, eye protection or mouth guards.

Alcohol: You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol in the state of Colorado. Underage drinking is very common and peer pressure is everywhere. Alcohol impairs your judgment and can lead to car accidents, homicides, suicides, physical injuries and increases your chances of being sexually assaulted. Your brain is still developing and can cause changes in your brain. Abuse of alcohol is common and often begins at a young age. Binge drinking is considered more than two drinks at any given time. Ways to keep yourself safe include avoiding alcohol, waiting to drink until you are older, limiting the number of drinks, always having a designated driver or calling for a ride. Never get in a car with someone who has been drinking and insists on driving.

Tobacco: Avoid using tobacco of any kind. Among high school students, 25 percent report using tobacco products. Tobacco use can lead to many different cancers, cause your breath, hair and clothes to smell bad and costs a lot of money. If you smoke tobacco around other people, you could cause them to develop infections and cancers as well. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes or a can of smokeless tobacco is $5. If you use one pack/can a day, you will spend $150 a month.

Drugs: Young people have a sense of adventure and are tempted to try new experiences with drugs. This is a dangerous place to get thrills. Drugs are one of the leading causes of death in young people and can lead to increased accidents, crime, depression and suicide. Many different drugs are available and can quickly become addictive. If you or a friend are struggling with an addiction, seek help from your parents, teachers, counselors or minister.