Monday, October 7, 2019

Your 16-year-old Checkup: Why It’s important and What to Expect

Hannah Canter, MD
Pediatric Resident at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
Member, Texas Medical Association

Editor’s Note: Me And My Doctor is highlighting the importance of vaccinations and overall teen health in a two-part blog series. This comes after leading medical and public health organizations issued a joint call-to-action urging health care professionals to establish an adolescent health care visit at 16 years of age to ensure their patients receive recommended adolescent vaccines. Part 1, titled “Teens Need Their Vaccines,” describes the different recommended immunizations, including meningococcal vaccines and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Regular medical checkups are an important way to keep track of your health and development. This includes the patient’s physical, emotional, and social aspects. By the time you are a teenager, checkups typically should happen once a year. If you are like most teens, you are probably fairly healthy. You might wonder why you need to see a doctor at all, and you most likely feel a little nervous about how the encounter might go.

The 16-year-old well-check visit is particularly important. Understanding why and knowing what to expect will help you feel more prepared and allow you to get the most out of the visit.

Prior to the Visit
Before the visit, gather health-related documents, including: medical records from visits to the doctor, hospital or emergency department; sports physical forms; other school paperwork such as 504 plans (formal plans schools develop to assist students with disabilities); Individualized Education Plans (IEPs – documents developed for students who need special education). You should also make note of any questions you have for your doctor.

During your Visit
Once you arrive, a medical staff member will check your height, weight, blood pressure, and vision. You’ll go to an exam room and change into a gown. When the physician arrives, describe any medical changes that have occurred since your last visit, as well as things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, school, and any other concerns that you or your parents might have.

At this point your doctor should ask your parents to leave the room to have a private conversation with you, the patient. This is your opportunity to ask any questions or mention anything you might be uncomfortable discussing with your parents present. Your doctor will also ask some questions to get to know you better. Expect him or her to ask about things like hobbies, life at home and school, puberty, gender, sexuality, sexual activity, mental health, and substance use. Keep in mind that all of this information is private, so it’s important to be honest. This helps the doctor determine if you need any additional help or testing.

When your parents return your doctor will perform a head-to-toe physical, including a brief breast and genital exam. Then your doctor will discuss his or her recommendations. At age 16 you should receive two meningitis vaccines (to prevent serious infections around the brain), as well as the HPV vaccine (to prevent certain cancers) if you have not already had those shots. You’ll also need a blood test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and testing for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active.

After the Visit
Take time to review information given to you by your doctor. Think about goals you might have discussed and realistic ways of working toward them. Follow up with your doctor as planned, and continue to spend time with him or her one-on-one.
The relationship you have your doctor is important, especially as you enter adulthood. Your well-check visit is an exciting and important opportunity to gain more independence and responsibility for your own health.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Teens Need Their Vaccines

Yasaman Ahmadieh, DO
Pediatric Resident at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
Member, Texas Medical Association

Editor’s Note:  Me and My Doctor is highlighting the importance of vaccinations and overall teen health in a two-part blog series. This comes after leading medical and public health organizations issued a joint call to action urging health care professionals to establish an adolescent health care visit at 16 years of age to ensure their patients receive recommended adolescent vaccines.

Annual doctor visits are essential – not only during children’s infancy and toddler years but also during their teen years. Vaccination is an important part of these visits. Children receive essential vaccines (against chickenpox, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, and whooping cough) prior to age seven, but they also need shots as they age. Parents and teenagers are often surprised when their pediatricians tell them about the required and recommended vaccines at age 16. At this age, teenagers are required to receive a second dose of the meningococcal serogroup A, C, W, and Y vaccine. Furthermore, the meningococcal serogroup B, and HPV vaccines are recommended if  the teenager has not yet received them. As a pediatrician, I have been asked the following questions about these conditions, and vaccinations to prevent them:

What is the meningococcal serogroup B?

Meningococcus bacteria have 13 known strains (serotypes). Meningococcus serotype B is one of the strains. Meningococcal bacteria cause meningitis, as well as infection of the lining of the brain and spine. Children in the first year of life and adolescents are at a higher risk of meningococcal infection. Meningococcal diseases are uncommon. However, 10% to 15% of infected children die. The children who survive may have complications such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, and intellectual disabilities. 

Teenagers are recommended to get several vaccines at age 16,
including those for meningococcal disease and HPV.
What is the meningococcal B vaccine?

It is a combination vaccine. It contains part of the bacteria’s outer membrane attached to a protein in order to induce the immune response. It is a two-dose series vaccine. Doctors and scientists recommend young people receive this vaccine at 16 to 18 years of age. However, young adults up to 45 years old can receive this vaccine.

What is the difference between the meningococcal B vaccine, and the meningococcal A, C, W, and Y vaccines? 

Meningococcus serotypes A, C, W, and Y are the most common of the 13 meningococcus strains. Giving 11- and 16-year-olds the necessary meningococcal vaccines protects them against serotypes A, C, W, and Y. Serotype B requires a different vaccine that specifically guards against that strain.

Why does my child need the meningococcal serogroup B vaccine?
Meningococcal diseases are fatal and have other serious complications. Although meningococcal serotype B is rare, there have been reported outbreaks on college campuses. Ninety-six meningitis cases caused by serotype B were reported in 2014 to 2016. Sixty-five of those cases involved college students. If adolescents receive the vaccine prior to attending college, they will be protected from meningococcal infection and complications. (That is why Texas law requires incoming college students under age 22 to show proof of an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling.)

What is human papillomavirus?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that causes several types of cancer, and other health problems. Nearly 80 million people are currently infected in the United States. About 14 million adults and teens are infected every year. In the United States, 33,700 cases of HPV infection result in cancer in men and women every year. Being younger than 25 years old and having multiple partners increase the risk of infection. It can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. HPV has many strains that are categorized as high or low risk based on the associated risk of cancer. High-risk strains are associated with head and neck, anal, penile, and cervical cancer. Low-risk strains cause genital warts. Since it is a virus, there is no treatment. However, the HPV vaccine prevents cancer-causing infections and precancers. HPV is not human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or herpes
simplex virus (HSV).

What is the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine was first recommended in 2006. The so-called 9-valent HPV vaccine targets nine of the most common low- and high-risk strains. It is recommended that girls and boys receive this vaccine at 11 or 12 years old. While it is most effective at those younger ages, males can still get the HPV shots through age 21, and females can receive them as old as age 45. Children who receive the HPV vaccine at 9 to 14 years old receive two doses. However, adolescents 15 years old or older should receive three doses.

Why does my child need the HPV vaccine if he or she is not sexually active?

Given the high rate of HPV infections in the United States, it is highly likely that your child will be infected after becoming sexually active in adulthood. The HPV vaccine can prevent numerous cancers. In fact, based on clinical trials and research, the HPV vaccine is effective in decreasing the development of anogenital cancer (cancer relating to or involving the genital organs and anus). It is the only vaccine that has been developed to prevent cancer.

Does this vaccine encourage teenagers’ sexual activity? 

No. Admittedly, some parents are concerned about encouraging high-risk sexual behavior since this vaccine protects adolescents from HPV, which is the most common of all sexually transmitted diseases. However, research has shown there is no significant change in adolescents’ sexual behavior after receiving the HPV vaccine. It is important to note that condoms may prevent infection of the cervix or anus. However, the virus might infect external areas. Bottom line, the HPV vaccine prevents life-threatening cancer; THAT is what parents need to know.

What are the side effects of these vaccines?

The most common side effects are temporary soreness, redness, or swelling. Some rare side effects include tiredness, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, fever, chills, or nausea.

Stay tuned for the second installment, “Your 16-Year-Old Checkup: Why It’s Important and What to Expect” on Me and My Doctor.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ankle Injuries Among Teenagers and Young Adults

By Blake Barber, DO
Pediatric Resident at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
Member, Texas Medical Association

A severe ankle injury is a common reason patients visit the emergency department or a doctor’s office. According to “The Epidemiology of Ankle Sprains in the United States,” teenagers and young adults have the highest rates of ankle injuries. Most occur among people aged 15 to 19, with about 7.2 ankle injuries per 1,000 people.

Half of all ankle sprains occur while playing sportsbasketball being the most common sport blamed on ankle injuries. The greatest risk factor for an ankle injury is having a previous ankle injury.

How will my doctor determine what kind of injury I’ve had?

When you visit the emergency department or physician’s office with such an injury, your doctor will first gather a thorough history of the event that caused the injury. He or she may ask you questions about when the injury happened, what you were doing when it happened, sounds made during the injury, and the ankle’s appearance afterward. Your doctor may also ask about your ability to walk and whether you’ve injured your ankle before. The most common ankle injury is a sprain of the lateral (outer side) of your ankle. This area has several weaker ligaments compared with the medial (inner side) of your ankle, which has very strong ligaments to protect it from injury. (A ligament is the connective tissue that connects bones to other bones.) With a classic lateral ankle sprain, the ankle will be tender, and there will be notable bruising and swelling, primarily over the outer side of the injured ankle. If you do not see your doctor right away, that bruising and swelling can spread to the top of your foot as well. Gravity can cause swelling and bruising to spread over time.

How will my doctor determine what kind of tests, if any, are needed?

Your doctor will evaluate your ankle injury using what physicians call the “Ottawa Ankle Rules” to determine if an ankle x-ray is needed to look for a fracture. An ankle x-ray is needed if a patient has pain at the inner side ankle bone (medial malleolus) or the outer side ankle bone (lateral malleolus) as well as at least one of the additional findings:

·      Bone pain with pressure applied to the back part of either the medial or lateral malleolus, and/or
·      Patient is unable to put weight on injured ankle. (Can the patient walk four steps immediately after the injury or in the emergency department or doctor’s office?)

If neither of these tests are positive, your doctor ideally will not order an x-ray of your ankle as you more likely have sprained an ankle ligament without a bone fracture. In this case, an x-ray would not be helpful because those images do not show ligament injury.

What are my treatment options?

Applying ice or cold packs directly to the injured ankle
improves pain and return of function.
If your doctor determines you have an ankle sprain, the classic treatment is known as the “RICE” method.

·         R: Rest until the pain is tolerable. Once bearable, start moving around gradually by putting weight on injured ankle for daily activities, as long as the pain is not too severe. Doctors find movement helps improve a return to sports and overall return of ankle function.

·         I: Apply ice or cold packs directly to injured ankle. Ice helps improve pain and return of function. Apply ice as often and for as long as you can tolerate it, ideally 10 to 20 minutes every two hours while awake for three to seven days.
·         C: Compression. Wrap the ankle using an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling and improve function. Don’t wrap it too tightly, however, because doing so will interrupt blood flow.

·         E: Elevate your foot while putting ice on the ankle. Ideally, have the ankle raised up higher than your waist while sitting. This will help move fluid out of your ankle and reduce swelling

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are the best medication options for pain control because they help decrease inflammation at the site of injury. Read the instructions on the medication bottle to make sure you are taking an appropriate dose every six to eight hours as you need for pain.

How can I best prevent future injuries?

Having a previous ankle injury increases the risk of another one. You can do certain things to protect yourself from getting another ankle injury, especially once you return to sports:

·    Wear an ankle brace or ankle taping to help support your ankle.
·    Do rehabilitation exercises to help build ankle strength after injury. Examples include:

·    Balancing on one leg for 30 to 60 seconds,
·    Performing balance exercises on a wobble board,
·    Doing one-legged mini-squats with other leg extended in different directions,
·    Performing range-of-motion exercises of the ankle using a resistance band, and
·    Doing calf raises.

Again, ankle injuries are one of the most common reasons teenagers go to the emergency department. Be mindful that not every ankle injury will require an x-ray of the ankle, and more commonly, ankle injuries are due to ligament sprains that will improve on their own. Your ankles are an essential part of daily movement. They support the weight of your entire body, so it’s important to take care of them as best as possible.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Pregnant, or Will Be, Soon? Vaccinate to Protect Yourself, Baby From Disease

Editor's Note: This video on vaccinations before and during pregnancy is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. posts a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured include: FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesPertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis ARubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumpsTetanusHepatitis B, and Meningococcal BDiphtheria, and more.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

In the video above, Austin obstetrician-gynecologist Kimberly Carter, MD, discusses the recommended vaccinations for women before and during pregnancy, and the complications that can occur by not getting vaccinated.

Before pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women considering pregnancy to get the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, especially in wake of the measles outbreaks happening across the U.S.  All three of these diseases create complications for mom and baby. Pregnant women who contract measles can develop complications like pneumonia. Measles can also lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and preterm delivery - and potentially pass on the disease to the child. Babies who contract rubella are susceptible to heart disease, spina bifida, blindness, deafness, and intellectual disabilities.

During pregnancy

During pregnancy, women are advised to get the flu and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) vaccines. Flu during pregnancy can cause severe illness that can lead to hospitalization and  result in preterm labor and birth. According to the CDC, flu can also harm a pregnant woman's baby. By getting the flu vaccine, a vaccinated new mom can pass on protection against the flu to her baby through breastfeeding - which is crucial because infants can't receive a flu shot until they are six months old.

Women also protect their baby when they get the Tdap vaccine. Tdap protects baby from whooping cough (pertussis), a serious threat to unprotected babies. The CDC says pregnant women should get this shot in the third trimester.

By vaccinating, women can protect themselves and their baby against serious diseases.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Use Your Head: A Closer Look at Traumatic Brain Injury, Including Sports Concussions

By Rigoberto Hernandez, MD
Pediatric Resident at Oregon Health & Science University
Former Member, Texas Medical Association 

As students participate in sports training, it is important to be aware of a phenomenon that until recently was often overlooked: Concussions among athletes, including student-athletes.

Thanks to movies like 2015’s “Concussion” starring Will Smith, and the recent concussion-related controversies involving the National Football League, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a more prominent topic of discussion among youth athletics. It’s important for people to get a better understanding of what TBI is, how to prevent it, and the consequences it can have if left untreated.

TBI is defined as any injury to the brain caused by an external physical force with temporary to long-term neurological complications. Motor vehicle accidents remain the most common cause of TBI for most people. However, sports-related head injuries remain particularly common among children and teenagers. Teenagers in high-impact sports such as football, soccer, boxing, and hockey are particularly at high-risk because of the collisions involved.

Symptoms are wide-ranging and may help doctors determine the extent of injury, whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe. Brief loss of consciousness, headache, fatigue, issues with memory or concentration, and changes in sleep pattern occur in mild cases of TBI. Severe symptoms – including longer periods of unconsciousness, persistent headache with associated nausea or vomiting, and convulsions – are far more concerning and warrant immediate medical attention. Lethargy, decreased strength and sensation, and altered mental status (i.e. agitation, profound confusion, and/or slurred speech) also occur in severe TBI cases. Regardless of how severe the injury is, patients should undergo a thorough evaluation by qualified medical personnel.

As one would expect with a traumatic brain injury, complications vary widely. They might affect multiple elements of daily living such as consciousness; cognitive abilities (such as memory, learning, reasoning, or concentration); communication; behavior; psychological state (i.e. depression, anxiety, or mood swings); strength and sensory abilities (such as impaired coordination); and in severe cases – death.

The connection between TBI and degenerative brain disease, including gradual loss of brain function, is a current hot topic of discussion, with recent studies suggesting patients might be at increased risk after suffering severe or repeat head injuries. This research, along with the aforementioned complications, highlight the importance of prevention.

In addition to following general safety standards (wearing seat belts, or wearing helmets when participating in high-contact sports, for example) young athletes should be encouraged to adopt the most up-to-date sport-specific safety practices.

It is important to continue raising awareness about traumatic brain injury in order to help facilitate early identification and treatment of young athletes in our communities.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Parent’s Survival Guide to the Anti-Vax Movement

By Zachary Jones, MD
Dallas Anesthesiologist
Member, Texas Medical Association

Vaccine safety is a growing topic of conversation both online and in doctors’ offices. Three years ago, when my wife and I were pregnant with our first child and picking a pediatrician, the office manager asked if we “believed in vaccines.”  As a physician (anesthesiologist) I said, “Of course!” I was surprised the pediatrician’s office needed to ask such a screening question. 

However, three years later and now with two boys (ages 1 and 2), I too have a strong desire to know if those around us believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Unfortunately, according to a reputable PLOS Medicine (peer-reviewed medical journal) article from June 2018, I live in a region designated a national “hot spot” for nonmedical childhood vaccine exemptions. Texas has multiple hot spots including Plano, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston.  Even more concerning, the elementary school that my kids will attend has one of the highest vaccine exemption rates in the entire school district (scroll to page 35 in the viewer). That increases the likelihood of children becoming infected by vaccine-preventable diseases. While my kids are on schedule for all of their shots, this still concerns me.

Living in an area on the front lines of the anti-vaccine epidemic, I asked myself, “How can I make a difference in my community?” I had an idea – take it to the streets.

This past spring, I visited all 312 houses in my neighborhood subdivision, offering legitimate medical resources with friendly face-to-face discussion about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. In support, my wife took our two boys in their red wagon along for the journey. With family in tow, my neighbors would see that I am not a salesman or an outsider, but rather a person they can trust. I considered this my “anti-Facebook” approach, where civil discourse and verified information can be traded face-to-face. The TMA Be Wise – Immunize program provided the educational handouts I used.

My experience meeting my neighbors was eye-opening. On my very first walk, I met a family a few doors down who have an immunocompromised child who cannot receive vaccines. (Patients with a weakened immune system do not have as great an ability to fight infections or diseases. Some cancer or leukemia patients are commonly in this situation.) This galvanized my efforts to spread accurate information about childhood vaccines. It took my family and me 11 walks to visit every home in my neighborhood. None were more important than that first day, when we learned someone on our very street is at risk of potentially deadly disease without the “herd immunity” we as a community of vaccinated people create around them. (If enough people are vaccinated, a herd immunity safe-zone is created, thereby helping to protect the more vulnerable people in their midst.)

Zachary Jones, MD, with one of his sons. 
Everyone I met was very supportive of my family’s efforts to spread information on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. However, my personal experience created an interesting contrast compared with what we frequently see online and in social media swarming groups of vocal “anti-vaxxers,” often from different states or other countries, peddling misinterpreted studies and unverified anecdotes.

As an anesthesiologist, my role in vaccine education is unique. I do not vaccinate patients in my medical specialty. So when some vaccine opponents name-call doctors “big pharma shills” who profit by promoting vaccines, that label doesn’t apply to me because I don’t even give the shots. However, my training during four years of medical school, four years of residency, and as a practicing physician gives me the tools to decipher complex technical studies and assess their validity. On that basis of knowledge, I know vaccines are effective and safe.

But as a parent of two little boys who have yet to complete their series of childhood vaccines and a consumer of social media myself, I see how confusing it is to sift through the noise and find accurate, honest data during the current anti-vax misinformation siege.

This brings me to my Parent’s Survival Guide to the Anti-Vax Movement:
  1. Be critical – When you see “studies” posted online, know there is a massive misinformation campaign currently being fought. I have seen anti-vaxxers take credible data on vaccines and misinterpret it on social media. 
  2. Vote with your dollars – Having just enrolled our two boys in daycare, we learned that some locations require children to be vaccinated, but others don’t. Furthermore, certain private schools will have a much higher-than-average vaccine exemption rate, while others require full vaccination. These data are available to the public in the Annual Survey of Immunization Status. Choose wisely, to protect your children.
  3. Vote with your vote! – The vaccine issue is highly political. While the anti-vax political machine is very loud, it is in fact a small (but growing) minority. Politicians will cater to small groups who reliably turn out at the polls and regularly lobby for their cause. If you want to create change, you have to vote for candidates who support vaccination and speak up to let others know as well. (If you do, you will be in the majority: Recent studies found the vast majority of Texas Republican-primary voters support vaccine requirements for school enrollment.)
  4. Trust reliable sources – Your pediatrician and primary care physician are invaluable resources; talk to them if you have any questions about vaccines. They went through grueling training to take care of you and your children. Current efforts to dehumanize your doctors and present them as part of a conspiracy couldn’t be further from the truth. Every doctor I know became one to take care of people.
  5.  Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing – Certain anti-vax groups will present themselves as “supporting vaccine choice” in an effort to capitalize on the Texan values of self-reliance and independence. Then these same groups pump out misinformation across social media daily, to increase anti-vaccine sentiment based on misinterpreted data or outright falsehoods. Make no mistake, they are “dyed in the wool” anti-vax.
  6. Be kind to each other – These are words my grandmother left for me. Often times, a sick child or family member is at the heart of someone’s mistrust of vaccines. And while statistically that illness is overwhelmingly unlikely to have been caused by vaccination, it’s a difficult emotional journey that person is going through. Today’s climate of fear, be it fear of vaccine side effects or fear of preventable diseases, puts us at odds. Ultimately we all want our children to be healthy, and kindness is a great first step.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Run For Your Mind: The Significance of Exercise For Teens

By Richard Thompson, DO 
Pediatric Resident at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
Member, Texas Medical Association 

Whether it’s from cardio, weight lifting, or simply having fun playing a favorite sport, doctors recommend all teenagers get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. However, the reality is only 27% of high school students reported getting the recommended amount of physical activity every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most of this exercise should be aerobic in nature, like long-distance running, jogging, walking, biking, or swimming. At least three days of the week should be spent on strengthening muscles and bones, achieved through resistance/weight-bearing exercises such as squats, push-ups, or sit-ups.

Why run at all?
You may be wondering why experts recommend so much aerobic exercise. Besides helping us look and feel great, cardio activities offer a number of benefits. No one denies that a quick jog can easily release the stress built up after a long day at school. But according to research, there are even deeper reasons why exercising – particularly running – can benefit our overall mental health, not just our physical well-being.

How do I start? 
Starting any exercise regimen is far from easy. Step one is to identify a barrier. Consider all the possible hurdles that keep people from exercising on a regular basis, such as:

  • Busy schedules – due to school, work, home responsibilities, or other extracurricular activities;
  • Lack of access to trails, parks, or gyms in the community; and
  • The belief that all forms of exercise are unenjoyable.

After pinpointing your reason(s) behind not exercising, make a plan. The Community Preventive Services Task Force offers several simple strategies. First, set an achievable goal. An example is to sign up for a short race – try starting with a 5K or 10K distance. Then train with that goal in mind; start shorter jogs and runs and increase your run distance/duration over time. Another strategy can be to join or build a community around physical fitness, whether it’s enrolling in a club sport or finding people around you with similar schedules to train alongside you. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly – reward yourself! After finishing that first 5K, give yourself a few days off.

My personal take as a running enthusiast is to first discover an activity you love. I’ll be the first to admit that running is not for everyone. However, cardio can be accomplished in a wide variety of settings such as yoga, cross-fit, swimming, or biking. If you’re starting at ground zero, try several options and choose whichever kind of exercise you prefer. You are much more likely to make a habit out of doing something you love. Once you find that activity, carve out a specific time of the day to do it, and stick with it. You might be surprised to find improvements not only in your physical fitness but also in your mental health.

Why is this so important for teenagers?
Doctors recommend all teenagers get at least 60 minutes
of exercise each day because it can benefit both
 physical and mental health.
Many teens may read this and think, “I’m too young to worry about exercising,” or “I have plenty of time in my life to think about keeping in shape later, when my metabolism slows down.” However, the most important reason why teens should exercise is to proactively prevent health complications in the future – to ultimately prolong their life span. When teens enter puberty, they not only begin to experience physical changes but also significant mental ones. Teens begin to develop an independent mind as they discover their own interests and plan for the future beyond high school. Because of this, teens are especially at risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Exercising, even if it is just an hour per day, can make all the difference in setting teens up for a healthier life today and a healthier future, while also helping to protect them from mental illness.
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