The Live Well Teens logo is a three-legged barstool, which represents the three different aspects of wellbeing. These are physical, mental, and social health. In the previous post, we went over what mental health means, in addition to some strategies to improve it. But as the barstool requires all three legs to stand, physical and social health are equally important for overall well being. In this post, we’ll talk about what physical health is, how to improve it, and why it’s even important at all.
First, I’ll start by defining physical health. According to the European patient’s Academy on Therapeutic Innovation, it is “the condition of your body, taking into consideration everything from the absence of disease to fitness level.” In other words, it is how close your body is to functioning the best that it can.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the best way or ways of improving mental health differ from person to person. While this is also true to some degree for physical health, there are many activities that will work for everyone to improve physical health. They mostly are related to being physically active and your diet.
For example, the National Institutes of Health give six ideas for improving health: get active, maintain your muscle, find a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, mind your metabolism, and build healthy habits.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your physical health! Exercise works for everyone, and has tremendous health benefits. According to England’s National Health Service, “Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.” But how much physical activity should we get? It goes on to say that “adults should try to be active every day and aim to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week, through a variety of activities.”
Another thing that can improve health is sleep! Sleep is an activity that not many teenagers get enough of. This is important because this is when your body truly grows and regenerates. When you study for a test, “current theories suggest a more active role in which memories undergo a process of consolidation during sleep” (frontiersin.org). More related to the physical health theme, when you exercise, your muscles grow during sleep. In fact, according to Harvard Medicine, “almost all human growth hormone is produced during slow-wave, or deep sleep, which a 45-minute nap is long enough to produce.”
As you can see, physical development is closely related to sleep. But how much do you need? The CDC has a chart of how much sleep is needed for different age groups. For teens, ages 13-18, it recommends “8 to 10 hours per 24 hours.” It’s sometimes hard to get this much, because of early school and other reasons. But increasing the amount of sleep you get each night will greatly improve your physical health!
This has been general advice that is likely to help most teens, but there are many teens who have specific qualities or factors that require specific additional or different diagnoses for improving physical health. Every person is unique, and many factors influence health. For more personalized advice, ask your doctor or pediatrician! It is their job to help you, and they would love to provide advice.
To summarize everything we learned, physical health is a measure of how functional your body is, and it is important to keep track of it, and try to improve it. Ways of improving physical health are getting exercise, keeping track of the foods you eat, and getting enough sleep (around 8-10 hours a day). Thanks for reading, and tune in next time for my post on social wellbeing!
Works cited in the blog post above are provided below: