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Keeping Your Teen Healthy in 2019

Lifestyle - by Tilton Fitness
November 25, 2019

As parents, it seems that not only do our kids struggle with some of the same challenges we did back then, such as bullying and avoiding drugs or alcohol, but the internet has opened up a whole new world of things to be wary of as well.


At Tilton Fitness' Brick NJ fitness center, and our six other NJ-based locations, we see the real-world effect that things such as technology can have on the minds and bodies of our teenage members. We also hear about it from their parents and can see it in our children, as well. Today we wanted to discuss two issues in particular that we see being negatively impacted by modern technology: posture and diet.


Improving that Posture:

Does your child do the "cell phone dip?" No, it's not a viral new dance move, it just means they are staring down at their cellphone, sometimes seemingly, non-stop. Which, to be fair, we all do now and then, don't we? 


It's no secret that all people, not just children, are accessing information more frequently on mobile devices than ever before. This constant looking down can lead to poor posture not only while engaged with the phone or tablet but when standing or walking without the devices present too. Issues like neck, shoulder, middle, and lower back pain, as well as stiffness and spinal injuries, are impacting teens more commonly because of our nation's addiction to our phones.


The cause of the pain, from a physiological standpoint, is quite straight forward. The human head, on average, weighs about 10-12 pounds. As the head tilts forward, as if it was looking at a cellphone, the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and discs of the spine have to work harder to support this strain.


As your head dips more and more, it can feel like it is weighing 2 or 3 times as much as it does! At the most extreme angles, like 60 degrees, the pressure your head can be putting on the neck and spine can be equivalent to 60 pounds of force! Extrapolating this and considering that most people look at their phones or mobile devices for 2-4 hours a day, this constant extra force means more wear and tear. It can ultimately lead to the injuries mentioned above or spinal degeneration.


So, what can we do about it?


Being aware that your teen (or yes, you) are dropping their heads always to look at their phones is the first step. Keeping good posture, where the head is upright, ears are in line with the shoulders and shoulder blades are down and retracted, is essential. For those moments that your teen MUST be on their phone, suggest that they raise their phone to eye level, just a little below the face, instead of looking down. If hours of mobile-based work lies ahead, suggest that they complete it on a desktop computer or that some other ergonomic arrangement is made to help. Additionally, putting limits on the hours a teen spends on their phone might also not make the most loved person in the house, but can save them a lifetime of real-world health issues later in life.



Diversifying their Diet:

As a part of your Tilton Fitness New Jersey gym membership, our staff and trainers are here to help you and your family make informed decisions that could impact your diet as well!


One of the places that teens have historically never been in the 100% right place with (and that's why they have us!) is eating a balanced and healthy diet. As the above posture issues, we certainly think that things like technology haven't exactly helped improve teenage diets either.


Hours spent sitting in a room on a computer or phone, coupled with the general lack of exercise that comes with such ventures (that's a whole other blog topic), can mean that there is overall less emphasis and thought about what they eat or drink in a day.


And sure, you as the parent could still be preparing plenty of meals and snacks for them, stocking the fridge with the right stuff. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they will be making the right decisions when they aren't at home, which is probably becoming more common. It also doesn't prepare them for the growing amount of responsibility they will have to take on as future adults.


Without bogging you down with too many measurements and milligrams of vitamins your teen should be taking in, here are a few of the heavy hitters to know:

  • Teens should be eating fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Foods rich with calcium and whole grain keep the bones healthy and provide much-needed energy.
  • Protein helps build the ever-growing muscles and organs of your teens.
  • Fats overall should be limited, with saturated fats replaced with healthier alternatives, like olive oil, tuna, nuts, and seeds.
  • Sugary beverages and food should be replaced by water or milk, with those tasty desserts only for special occasions.

Tilton Fitness cares about all of our member's health and wellness. That includes our teenage and student clients and families with teens at home. Despite the growing challenges that technology adds, our teens are going through profound times of change, physically and emotionally, like we all once did. The habits they are committing to (or not to) in the way of posture and diet can negatively impact them for the rest of their lives, and we can help prevent that. 


Keeping track of your teenager's online usage habits, as well as their associated diet, and teaching them about why it is so important to pay attention to, can and will lead to a desire to live a more fulfilling and healthy life. Even if it means a little resentment in the interim.


For more information on any of the above topics, don't be afraid to ask! Please speak to the staff at one of the seven New Jersey Tilton Fitness locations of your choosing today!

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