Health and hygiene needs change somewhat during adolescence. However, making wise food choices, keeping clean, exercising, and getting enough sleep are still the keys to good health.


Puberty and related growth spurts have an impact on nutritional needs. A balanced diet of nutritious foods is needed to fuel growth, as well as normal body processes. Teens typically consume more calories than usual during growth spurts.

Eating right means not only avoiding foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, but also taking sensible portions. Overeating, especially of high calorie foods, can lead to obesity. Parents can help by making nutritious food choices available, setting a good example, and paying attention to portion sizes.


Personal cleanliness routines become more important in adolescence. Perspiration odor and oily skin and hair are common problems. Fortunately, most teens care about their appearance and how they are perceived by others. Regular baths or showers remove dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells. Deodorant or antiperspirant helps control body odor, Clean clothes help present a fresh image.


A moderate amount of daily exercise is important for everyone, including teens. It builds strong bones and muscles and benefits the heart and blood vessels. Unfortunately, nearly half of young people in the United States between the ages of 12 and 21 don't exercise on a regular basis. Physical inactivity sets the stage for possible obesity and the development of other health problems later in life.

There are some ways teens can add exercise to their daitly routine. Doing so helps the body cope with stress and strengthens muscles. Including heart muscles.


Everyone needs adequate sleep. The body, especially the brain and nervous system, restores itself during sleep. Teens need at least eight and one half hours of sleep every night, but most only sleep about seven hours. They tend to go to bed late and then find it difficult to get up in the morning.

The negative effects of too little sleep include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating in school and lower grades
  • Becoming irritated more easily and losing emotional control
  • Impaired coordination and slower reaction time.
  • Decreased resistance to illness.

Some teens take on too many extracurricular activities or hold part time jobs during the school week. Others spend late nights on the computer or watching television. Good choices, time management skills, and a regular sleep schedule can help teens get enough rest.