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How Teen Girls Can Stay in Shape

by Barbie Carpenter

Encouraging healthy choices during the teen years can set your daughter up for a healthy lifestyle for years to come. Combining healthy eating with daily exercise can help your teen girl stay in shape, even as she moves through the inevitable body changes associated with puberty. Boost her self-confidence and improve her health at the same time by encouraging healthy choices for the whole family.

Structured Physical Activity

Your teen girl has plenty of options when it comes to structured physical activity, thanks to team sports at her high school or a local community center. Encourage your teen to discover a team sport that she enjoys, from volleyball, softball and basketball to cheerleading, gymnastics and tennis. Child development experts at the Kids Health website encourage teens to give organized sports a chance, even if they are unsure if they'll make the team. In addition to the obvious physical benefits of team sports, teen girls enjoy the added boost of staying in shape with friends.

Unstructured Physical Activity

Your teen girl might not find a team sport that works for her, or perhaps it's the off season for her sport. Unstructured physical activity is just as important. Many unstructured exercise options exist, allowing teen girls to stay in shape on their own schedule. They might jog through their neighborhood after school, ride a bike to a friend's house or go on a hike on the weekends with their family. The American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org explains that the best type of exercise is aerobic, which makes your teen breathe harder and her heart rate increase, which can boost her fitness level.

Nutrition

Nutrition plays a role in a teen girl's ability to stay in shape as well. Teen girls should choose a range of healthy, high-energy foods for their daily diet: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy. According to the National Institutes of Health's publication "Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers," teens need iron to encourage growth, calcium to improve bone health and potassium to regulate blood pressure. Encourage your teen girl to avoid fast food and sugary treats, which can derail a healthy diet and her efforts to stay in shape.

Healthy Choices

A healthy lifestyle extends beyond just exercise and nutrition. Smart lifestyle choices can help boost a teen girl's health and allow her to stay fit. HealthyChildren.org recommends that teens avoid excessive sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games. Choosing water over soft drinks, eating three healthy meals a day and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol are other lifestyle choices that will put teen girls on the path to health.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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