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6 Healthy Habits that Will Help Your Teen

The statistics are a bummer: Only 5 percent of U.S. teens get enough sleep and exercise, according to a recent study. Researchers also found that most teens spend more than the recommended max of two hours a day in front of screens.

Why does it matter? When teens skimp on sleep and spend too much time sedentary, it can affect their overall health, their behavior, and even how well they do in school. Experts recommend teens ages 13 to 18 get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. They should also log at least one hour of physical activity every day.

So what’s a parent to do? Encourage the following healthy habits:

  1. For a good night’s sleep, set firm rules around screen time before bed. People of all ages should avoid screen time at least one hour before bedtime. In addition, experts recommend keeping screens out of kids’ bedrooms.

  2. Help teens find a sport or fitness class that interests them. The more they enjoy it, the more likely they’ll stick with it.

  3. Find activities to do together. It could be a simple bike ride or walk after dinner. Or try indoor rock climbing, hiking, yoga, or martial arts.

  4. Set limits on how much time your teen spends in front of a screen and stick to them.

  5. Make mealtimes screen-free. Ban cell phones from the table and keep the TV off.

  6. Share some screen time together so it’s not a solitary activity. Use the opportunity to discuss difficult topics that arise in a movie or TV show.

Don’t forget to be a good role model. If your kids see you enjoying physical activity, it’s more likely they will, too. The same goes for getting enough shut-eye and disconnecting yourself from your phone and computer.