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THE teen health



welcome It’s not easy being a teenager, but the Teen Health Guide is here to help. Read on to discover how to be healthier and happier s a teenager you’re in the prime of your life and you’ve got the world at your feet. You can have fun listening to music with friends, playing sports, and browsing Facebook, without worrying about problems like paying a mortgage. But your teenage years can be a struggle, thanks to your body changing, other people making your life miserable, and potentially a whole stack of health issues to deal with, like acne and sexually transmitted infections. It can also be a very lonely time, but you have more control over this stuff than you might think. And there are lots of resources out there that you can tap into to help you get through some of the most important stages of your life.


“Remember one thing above all else: you’re in charge of your own destiny and you can shape your future” Sometimes it’s hard to know who to turn to or how to get out of a rut. That’s why the Teen Health Guide has been created – to help with any physical or psychological issue that you might have to face. In the following pages you’ll learn how to eat more healthily, deal with bullies, get the most

out of exercise (without it becoming a chore), and much more. Remember one thing above all else: you’re in charge of your own destiny and you can shape your future (and the present) far more than you might believe. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that no matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone. Find out how to start looking and feeling great – both inside and out—so you can be the best you possible.

dr will swallow General practitioner


THE teen health Guide


contents Worried about something? Then read on and we’ll help to take that weight off your mind...

MIND p6-21 Mental health isn’t something that gets discussed very often, but it’s super important. Do you get really stressed before exams? Is someone bullying you so much that you’re crying yourself to sleep at night? Ever feel down but don’t know why? You’re not the only one. There are coping techniques that can help you heal.

body p22-37 You probably have tons of questions about your body, such as why am I getting so many headaches? Do I have an eating disorder? What will happen to my skin if I get a tattoo or piercing? Well here’s the good news: the Teen Health Guide has answers (lots of ‘em!). So you can stop freaking out and find out what you need to know.

fuel p38-45 Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean chowing down on non-stop plates of fruits and vegetables (boring!) Proper nutrition is all about balance. This section teaches you how to fill your plate with good-for-you foods. That way, when you scoff down an occasional cookie, you won’t feel guilty.

The team

Publisher Editor Sub-editor Health expert Art director

fitness p46-55 There are so many awesome reasons to stay fit. You’ll maintain a healthy weight, feel happier and more energised, plus you’ll build muscle. So what are you waiting for? Turn to page 46!

sex p56-63 Being in a good sexual relationship is an amazing experience, but it can be fraught with pitfalls. Learn more about sexuality, contraception, pregnancy, infections, and all sorts of other topics too.

For more advice log on to

James Evans Victoria Evans Jane Bianchi Dr Will Swallow Dan Hilliard

The contents of this magazine are copyright © Teen Health Guide Ltd and may not be reproduced or transmitted, in any form in whole or in part, without written consent from the editor. Neither Teen Health Guide Ltd nor its staff can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein or for any consequence arising from it. All enquiries to: 01483 660 341

THE teen health Guide


Introduction to

your Mind

Your brain controls everything you do, say and think. As master of your emotions and general wellbeing, your brain can be your best friend or your worst nightmare

our mind is your greatest asset. That A-grade maths paper? That’s the work of your brain. The goal in your football match? Thank your brain again. The way you made your friend laugh? Yep, you guessed it! Your brain is extremely complex and powerful. Acting as your onboard computer (with a 1 million GB capacity), different parts of your brain provide different functions. When your brain receives a message from your body it tells your body how to react. While you're reading this page your brain is controlling your eyes, information processing, recognising, reasoning, and memorising, while keeping your organs working.


PIC: Shutterstock

Stress & your brain There are times when external pressures can have a huge impact on your brain. Whether the pressure is an exam, a toxic friendship, being bullied, or something else, a chemical imbalance can occur in the brain. The brain releases excess cortisol (a stress hormone), which has been linked to memory loss and premature brain ageing. You might feel a sense of panic (think: jittery limbs, sweating, shortness of breath, a faster

heart rate, etc.) And you might even get a headache or stomach ache. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, and you can't eliminate all stress in your life, but there are easy ways to reduce it.

Depression There are times when feeling stressed, tired, and upset can get the better of you and your mind. Sometimes it might feel that your mind is not on your side – that it’s playing tricks on you or not helping you feel better. Sometimes, feeling sad or worried can be a more permanent feeling, and can turn into depression, which has no single cause but can affect anyone. Sometimes there’s a stressful life trigger, such as divorce, someone close to you dying, or things just not working out at school. Other times it can be because you simply feel like everything is going wrong. And sometimes it can be for no apparent reason at all. Like stress, depression can cause a chemical imbalance and prevent your brain from functioning correctly. Depression is serious, and it’s considered a mental illness. But that doesn't mean it will last forever – there are many ways to treat it.

Controlling your mind It’s easy to think that your brain can’t be controlled and that there is nothing you can do about chemical imbalances. Not so. If you’re suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, tell a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, or your GP as soon as you can. Stress often comes and goes, usually when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. So when you're feeling stressed, try these techniques to calm your nerves: ■ Prepare well beforehand. You could be nervous of the unknown. Think of every eventuality and plan it out. ■ Make time to relax and meditate. Sit in a quiet area, close your eyes, and take five deep breaths, in and out. ■ Get a decent night's sleep so you feel rested for the new day. ■ Go for a walk to clear your head and do some thinking. ■ Thinking positively about the things you can change will more likely assist you with overcoming the hurdle. If you don’t get the job you applied for, there will be another.

Visit to learn the 5 way to improve your wellbeing!


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THE teen health Guide


Looking at

Depression The pressures of being a teenager can be immense, so it’s no wonder depression is a fact of life for so many young people. You’re not alone and you can escape: here’s how

ow many times have actually far from alone. Since you heard people say the symptoms of depression they’re depressed, when often come on gradually, they’re really not? Maybe these sometimes it’s difficult to people are a bit down because identify the condition early, they’re having a bad day, but which delays doing something that’s very different from about it. In severe cases depression. You can of depression, it's usually escape possible to feel feeling fed up, so low that you by sleeping have thoughts If you s it off. But of suicide or your ee your GP when you’re self- harm. proba depressio about n b y ly o u’l b in a d suffering from Even if epres e asked to l surve s depression it’s you’re feeling y, wh ion symp fill to the ich will h tom something that fine, one of elp b lasts for weeks your friends proble ottom of t get h m e – an or even months. may not be, so fix it. d to It’s a state of mind look out for anyone and it’s hard to escape. doing really badly at The pressures of modern school, taking part in fewer life have led to a huge increase social activities or avoiding in depression among young social contact altogether. They people. Within the past 25 could also be neglecting their years depression in teenagers hobbies or having problems has soared by 70%, so while at home. You could be the you may think that nobody person who stops them going else feels your pain, you’re over the edge.


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PIC: Shutterstock

Symptoms The symptoms of depression vary from one person to another, but anybody suffering from it will be battling with at least some of these:

■ Feeling sad or hopeless ■ Losing interest in things they've previously enjoyed ■ Anxiety ■ Tearfulness ■ Poor sleep and continual tiredness

■ Unexplained aches and pains ■ Low self-esteem ■ Feeling intolerant or irritable ■ Finding decision making to be difficult ■ Suicidal thoughts or self-harming

Use the West Berkshire Emotional Health Academy to get support for your emotional wellbeing quickly and easily

types of depression


Mild/ Moderate/ Severe: Depression can be classified by the severity of the symptoms.


Reactive/ Situational depression: Occurs when depression is caused by major life events such as a break up, harassment or a family death.


Dysthymia: This is depression with less severe symptoms, but they last for an extended period of time.


Seasonal affective disorder: Usually happens with the arrival of winter.


Post-natal depression: Occurs after having a baby and is treated with therapy or anti-depressant medicine.


Bipolar disorder: Consists of spells of depression interspersed with excessively high mood which can include harmful behaviour such as unsafe sex, gambling or spending sprees.



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feel better, faster Ease the effects of depression and keep your mind healthy by using these techniques, courtesy of depression charity Mind ( ■ ■Break the cycle of negativity. Dark thoughts often breed more dark thoughts, so think of positive things you’ve achieved (like a good grade), and things you’re grateful for, like a loving pet or having enough food to eat. ■ Do something active to keep your mind on something else. It need not be strenuous; taking part in an after-school sports club or walking home from school instead of getting the bus or a lift could help. ■ Connect with others as often as possible, even if it’s just a quick phone call. Staying connected to friends and family offers perspective and will make you feel better about yourself.


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If you think you’re depressed, see your GP as soon as possible. They'll be able to help plan the right treatment. The underlying cause of the problem could be a trigger event such as failing an exam, a change in home circumstances, or being bullied. Whether or not this is the case, you’ll be able to get the help you need.


THE teen health Guide

Stress, anx If you’re feeling stressed or depressed, don't suffer in silence. There is help

round half a million people suffer from work-related stress every year. Figures aren’t kept for students, but you can bet the numbers aren't small. After all, you’ve got so much to deal with including relationships, too much work, not enough money, and possibly bullying, to name just a few things. Some people just clam up and hope the problem will go away, but it rarely does. The result is that your health can suffer and your friendships or other relationships can come under enormous pressure, which is why you must tackle the issue head on. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, you must seek help. Either find someone you can trust or contact someone impartial who can help. Your GP would be a great start, but a parent or close friend or school social worker may also be able to help. If you don’t


want to talk to someone you know, there are lots of helplines staffed by people who can give you all of the guidance you might need, like What matters is that you don’t give up if the first point of contact doesn’t work out. Keep trying until you find someone who can help.

stress If you feel overwhelmed, like you're under huge pressure, the chances are you’re not sleeping properly, you’re irritable, you're struggling to focus, and you may be suffering from physical problems such as headaches, muscle pains, or dizziness. Why? Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body to deal with pressures or threats. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone level usually returns to normal. But if you're constantly under stress, these hormones remain at a high level in your body, leading to stress symptoms.



Sometimes things don’t have to go wrong – you simply fear that they might. It’s this fear that leads to feelings of helplessness or worry, which is otherwise known as anxiety. According to the Mental Health Foundation, there were 8.8 million cases of anxiety reported in the UK in 2013, and females were almost twice as likely as males to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

depression In its mildest form depression can mean being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you from leading your normal life, but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. These feelings can lead to cutting or addiction, unhealthy coping mechanisms. At its most severe, major depression (also known as clinical depression) can be lifethreatening, because it can make you feel suicidal.

PIC: Shutterstock

You’re not alone...

2.6% 4.7% of people suffer from depression

of people suffer from anxiety

Almost one in 10 (9.7%) of us suffers from a combination of anxiety and depression, so the chances are that you know someone who is going through the same as you.

the figures above are from the mental health charity Mind (

Contact Time to Talk to speak to someone confidentially and to get help - 01635 760331


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Becca’s story

When I was 14 I started hearing voices and hallucinating. A few months later, when I turned 15, I became very withdrawn and began to experience severe depression. I started to self-harm and had suicidal thoughts. I didn't think I would make it to my

"I didn't think I would make it to my 16th birthday." 16th birthday. By the time I was 16 I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (an eating disorder) and depression. At 17, I was diagnosed with anxiety. When I first started talking about my mental health to others close to me there was a lot of tension, because I told them how I was really feeling. Since then, which was a few years ago, I haven’t felt comfortable openly talking about my mental health with those close to me, but I feel able to talk to people I don’t know so well. Looking back, I wish I had known that there are people out there who care and that I wasn’t alone. I also wish I had known that I wasn’t going to be suicidal and unwell forever and that things get better if you have the right support networks around you.


THE teen health Guide

Suicide Learning about

get help

■ pap yru 0800 ■ sam 068 41 41 , arita n 116 12, 3

Suicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers. If you've had suicidal thoughts, read this – now

t’s not uncommon to feel so low that you can’t see a way out. Since 2007, the number of people in the UK who committed suicide has increased steadily, landing at 6233 in 2013. Of those who killed themselves, 78% were male. Most of those who commit suicide often feel hatred towards themselves and believe themselves to be unwanted or useless in life. Feeling powerless, people with suicidal thoughts often feel that suicide is an opportunity to regain control of their life again (it's not). Sometimes people don’t know why they feel suicidal, and other times there can be an obvious trigger event such as a bereavement, a perceived failure in life, or some other devastating news. Feeling suicidal often leads to feeling ashamed or embarrassed , which can compound the issue. Often people feel unsure whether

PIC: Shutterstock


"No matter how sad, mad, stressed, frustrated, or lonely you feel, suicide is never the answer"

they want to end their lives, they just know that they don’t wish to live any more. Suicidal thoughts can make people feel confused and lonely. Sometimes, people with suicidal thoughts cut or burn their bodies, take extreme risks with drugs or alcohol, show signs of eating disorders, or act out in an aggressive fashion. But remember, however desperate or isolated you may be feeling, anything can be resolved.

what to do If you feel suicidal, or someone tells you that they feel suicidal: ■ Talk to a parent, teacher or someone you trust. ■ Contact ■ Call the Samaritans (116 123). ■ Go to your nearest A&E and tell the staff how you feel. ■ Contact NHS 111. ■ Make an urgent appointment to see your GP.

PIC: Shutterstock

Contact Time to Talk to speak to someone confidentially and to get help - 01635 760331



Peer pressure &

bullying Bullying can lead to mental health problems, which is why breaking the cycle is so important ullying takes many and call records – but don’t forms, including respond to the bully. name-calling, physical assault, spreading rumours, ■ Tell teachers, parents and stealing, excluding people and friends right away. If you don’t turning someone’s friends trust any adults enough, against them. Happy, contact Childline or secure people don’t Bullying UK. bully others; it’s the bullies who have If you bully ■ chil d the problem, not someone ■ ditc hth k those they target. you could be ■ bull ying.c Sadly, bullying is responsible for experienced by pushing them many people at to the brink – or some point and if beyond. It’s easy to you're a target you need see picking on someone to put an end to it. Here’s how: as harmless teasing, but nearly half of suicides of young people ■ Keep a diary: dates, times, are because of bullying. Many places, who was there and others who are bullied have what happened. to skip school because they can't concentrate, and the ■ If you’re being cyber-bullied effects on their self-esteem and save messages, screen grabs confidence can last for years.


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Online Bullying Online (cyber) bullying can be just as hurtful as face-toface bullying. Because we lead such connected lives it can happen anywhere at any time. To deal with it: ■ Block abusers on social media or your phone. ■ Keep your details from those you don’t trust or know well. ■ Adjust your privacy settings on social media to control who sees what. There isn’t a specific online bullying law in the UK, but some actions can be criminal offences. People have been prosecuted for abusive behaviour towards others.


THE teen health Guide

Relationsh family and personal

There are lots of benefits to having great relationships, but what should you do when they veer off track?

here are many types of relationship, but broadly speaking they usually fall into one of four categories: family, friendship, romantic, or professional. What’s normal in one type of relationship may seem weird in another. In any relationship, it's important to think carefully about what you want out of it, what the other person wants out of it, and


PIC: Shutterstock

Find someone who loves you as much as you love them

whether you’re comfortable . Bad relationships can be the source of a lot of stress and anxiety, but it’s important to remember that by consciously developing and working on good relationships, you will feel so much healthier and happier. One of the most important things to understand about a relationship is that you’re only a part of it. People change, and so do circumstances. These are often beyond

your control, so you shouldn't blame yourself if a relationship gets tough or crumbles. Even though you might not be able to help the other person see things differently or make them change, you can control how you interpret what’s going on and how you act about it. In other words, stay focused on the things that you can change and don't worry about the things that you can’t. Good communication and managing other people’s expectations are important in healthy relationships. But when someone stops listening to you or the dynamic in the relationship starts to sour and make you think "ugh", it’s time to take swift action. If the relationship makes you unhappy, consider cutting it off. However, if the relationship becomes abusive or someone is taking advantage of you, you must quickly protect yourself by telling someone you trust. If it’s anything sexually abusive or illegal, speak to the police on 101, or call Childline on 0800 1111 for advice.

Contact Time to Talk to speak to someone confidentially and to get help - 01635 760331



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signs you’re 5 in a bad


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You don’t enjoy someone's company any more. You feel like he or she is taking advantage of you. You don’t trust them and/or they don’t trust you. You find yourself lying to the person. He or she asks you to do things you don’t want to do.

Dealing with separation &


Keep the peace

You can’t change your parents’ behaviour in a divorce, but you can ask them to censor it in front of you. Ask them for no more fighting or name-calling in your presence.

Talk about the future Many teens whose parents divorce, worry about their own plans for the future. Talk about your concerns, as they are perfectly valid and your parents should hear them.

Live your life During a divorce, parents may be so caught up in their own changes that it can feel like your own life is on hold. Stay focused on your own plans and dreams, and participate in as many of your normal activities as possible.

Let others support you It's normal to be sad, frustrated, and mad. Discuss your feelings with someone you trust, like a friend or sibling. And ask your school if there is a counsellor who can speak with you.


THE teen health Guide


Mindfulness When life gets too intense, take a step back and regain some control. It’s easier than you might think

ith so many demands on your time, it’s easy to lose track of who you are and become disconnected from reality. Many people are now actively seeking to regain control of their minds through exercising meditation and mindfulness, but what exactly does that mean?

PIC: Shutterstock


What is mindfulness? Mindfulness means living fully in the present, without judgment. It’s about focusing on your breathing, being aware of what’s happening in the moment, accepting whatever you’re experiencing (whether it's easy or difficult), and letting it go. The best part: you can be mindful any time, anywhere, no matter what you’re doing. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to do, especially

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when you’re freaking out about something. If you start to experience a stressful situation or get stuck in a pattern of negative thinking, consciously practising mindfulness can help break the cycle. Believe it or not, your breathing is central to the here and now and it's also central to the concept of mindfulness.

"Believe it or not, your breathing is central to the concept of mindfulness"

MIND Eac morn h we ar ing again e born we do . What what today is ma mosttters . By focusing intensely on that important bodily function, you can quickly tune in to your natural rhythm and start to feel calmer and happier. Mindfulness is a state that you can develop over time by constantly being aware of what’s happening around you (hint: stop texting for a minute and look around!). Meditation is something slightly different and it’s grown massively in popularity in recent years, largely because of the many health benefits reported by those who practise it regularly. If you think that you need to sit cross-legged on the floor, burn joss sticks, and chant “Om”, think again. You’ve most likely sat opposite someone on the train or bus who was quietly meditating, and you didn't even realise it. If you'd like to learn how to meditate properly, see the box on the right.

Start meditating:


Find a seated position that's comfortable, but not too comfortable. This could be in a chair or on the floor. Rest your hands on your knees. You want to be relaxed enough to concentrate and be still for five minutes, but not so loose that you fall asleep.


Keep a tall spine. Inhale, roll your shoulders up to your ears. Exhale, roll them back and down. Every time you feel yourself hunching forward or slumping, reset your spinal position with this inhale/exhale rolling shoulder technique. If you maintain a good posture, you’re less likely to get tired and fidgety.


full breaths. For meditation, breathing through your nose makes it easier to find a smooth, even pace. Focus on the area between your nostrils and your upper lip. Observe the sensation of the air entering and exiting your body as it passes over this spot.


Keep the focus and observe without judgment. Often the mind wanders. Whenever you notice that awareness has drifted, gently guide it back to your breath. Make mental observations about what is happening around you, but don't judge whether each event is 'good' or 'bad'. It's all about accepting, not reacting.

5 steps, 5 minutes each day

Gently close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply. There’s no rush. You can start out with a few


Don’t go to your thoughts. Let them come to you. Keep your mind open and welcoming of ideas, like a blank slate.



THE teen health Guide

How tech

affects your mind Technology affects your memory, attention and sleep cycles. How can you protect yourself from the negative effects?

sing smartphones, tablets, and computers has become a way of life. You've likely outsourced your memory and processes to Google, GPS, and calendar alerts. This may increase your productivity, but it can be bad news for your mind.


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FOMO (‘fear of missing out’). You stay in, but seeing your mates at a party on social media can make you regret your choice.

Go for a walk, play a board game with family, or meet friends in town instead of scouring social media.

A poor night’s sleep. Glowing tablet or mobile screens can trick your body into thinking its daytime so our internal body clock gets confused.

Take regular breaks from any devices and avoid all screens for at least an hour before bed to allow your mind to unwind so you can sleep soundly.

You remember less. Why bother to learn the capital of Kenya when you can ask Siri?

Quiz yourself with a friend. See who can remember the most capitals around the world.

Shorter attention spans. You're used to short snippets of information read at speed.

Give the screen a break and read a book or a print magazine article instead.

Skewed relationships. Social media gives an edited portrayal of friends' lives which can alter your perceptions of someone.

Meet new people at afterschool clubs and develop offline friendships to get the full picture of someone's life.


Sleep Get a good night's

It’s a

Sleep is crucial to your wellbeing. As you sleep, your body repairs and prepares for the next day, so the better you sleep, the better you'll feel t’s likely that after a good night’s sleep you’ll feel alert, be able to make quick decisions, focus better, and be more creative. That’s why not getting enough zzz's isn't smart. It can cause long-term health issues and affect the way you think, react, work, and interact with others. In fact, sleep deficiency is linked with depression, obesity, anxiety, and addiction. Research suggests that around nine hours per night is the magic number for teens (adults need fewer hours). But every person has different

PIC: Shutterstock


requirements. Basically, if you feel tired at school, you need more sleep. The story doesn’t end there. During puberty, studies suggest that your body clock shifts by two hours, so you're likely to go to bed two hours later and wake up two hours later. That's why some secondary schools in the UK are experimenting with pushing start times later. It can be tough to get enough sleep. Distractions from social media, outside noise, or ticking clocks can leave you bleary-eyed each morning. But here's how you can log more hours in bed.



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to bed at the same 1theGotime and wake up at same time every day. (No snoozing!)

Exercise regularly and 2 avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Minimise noise and 3 light and keep the temperature a little low

(15-19 degrees). Use relaxation or meditation techniques before going to bed.


Avoid digital devices 5 at least one hour before you turn in. Use the 'do not 6 disturb' function on your phone to limit digital interruptions.


THE teen health Guide

Getting a grip on

Phobias & fears

If you have irrational fears there’s no need to suffer in silence. You’re far from alone and help is at hand... f you’ve ever run screaming from a spider or feared public speaking you’ll know what it’s like to feel irrational fear. It’s estimated that 95% of phobias are developed before the age of 20. While overcoming your fears may seem impossible, it’s often easier than you might think. Fear is primarily a good thing. It's a basic human emotion that helps protect you from something dangerous. Whether

PIC: Shutterstock


it’s claustrophobia or a fear of heights, your brain realises this fear and sends a message to your nervous system. Your heart beats faster, you sweat more, and your breathing becomes rapid. These are all 'fight or flight' signals to your body to either attack or run away. Sometimes you can even faint. Phobias are intense fears and they’re very common, but here's some good news: with a little work, you can overcome them.

Taking action ■ Gradual immersion Overcoming a phobia is a gradual process. If you’re scared of, say, hamsters, the first step is to look at a picture of a hamster. The second step is to go to a pet shop to see a hamster. Lastly, build up to holding one. Go slowly. ■ Change your mentality Try to work out exactly what you’re afraid of. For instance, is it the dentist or the needles that he or she uses? Do some research and try to rationalise your fears. Ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen? And: what is the likelihood of [insert some terrible thought] occurring? Write down your thoughts to help process the phobia. ■ Develop a coping mechanism Relaxation and breathing techniques may reduce your anxiety and alleviate any physical symptoms of fear, like a stomach ache.

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Use Reading Well ‘Books on Prescription’ to find a book and get further info on any of the Mind topics!

mind summary eveloping a healthy mind is more important than any other topic in this guide. Happiness and success are largely due to nurturing a positive attitude and interpreting things in a way that makes you feel in control and at peace, rather than anxious and vulnerable. Lots of things can happen to you during the day that can make you feel sad, angry, or frustrated. Maybe you got into a row with your parents, broke up with someone, or failed a test, and you find yourself acting silent or grumpy as a result. It's normal to have these feelings, acknowledge them, and let them out so they don't stay bottled up and grow. It's important to vent to a

PIC: Shutterstock


friend or trusted adult, like a school counsellor, whenever you feel overwhelmed. Talking it out is not a sign of weakness, it's a way to strengthen your mind. The next step is developing coping mechanisms and trying some of the strategies outlined.

Key points


Always get a good night’s sleep in order to feel refreshed the next day. Aim for 8-9 hours per night.


Try to live a stress-free life by relaxing and doing things you enjoy.


If you are suffering from depression or feeling suicidal, get help quickly.



Everyone has good days and bad days. In the end, you have control over your state of mind. Learn how to take the reins

The best mind apps All of these are available for free and are suitable for both Apple and Android phones. Headspace This app makes meditation simple. Through the guided sessions, learn meditation and mindfulness in just 10 minutes each day. Peak Brain Training Get your brain in tiptop shape with over 30 fun games developed by neuroscientists that challenge your cognitive skills. SAM Developed by a university team of psychologists, this app offers a range of self-help methods for people who are serious about managing their stress and anxiety levels.


THE teen health Guide



Keeping your body in good condition and staying safe plays a huge part in maintaining your mental wellbeing, physical capability and long-term wellness our teenage years are a great time to experiment and find out who you really are. Your likes and dislikes as well as your strengths and weaknesses. But follow these tips to make sure that you don’t cross a serious line and endanger yourself. Think carefully before trying something new.

you do decide to get pierced or tattooed, tell your parents, stay within the law, visit a reputable practitioner, and get a second opinion from someone you trust. As for smoking, drinking, or drugs, think about why you are doing it. Is it for you or to impress someone else?

Try something new

It’s natural to feel social pressure. Many teens do things because they are expected, rather than what they actually want to do. When you’re finding your way, it can be hard to say no, since you may worry that you’ll lose friends or won’t be considered cool if you do. But It’s far better to live the life that you want than it is to spend all your time satisfying other people. And keep in mind that if others aren’t supportive of your decisions, they’re probably not very good friends in the first place. In fact, you may find that by carving your own path, others will respect you even more and follow your lead.


Some things such as dying your hair, experimenting with make-up, or building muscle in the gym are fairly low-risk activities. But other choices can have lasting consequences, such as tattoos, piercings, smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. For example, you may become addicted to alcohol or drugs, which can negatively affect both your health and finances. Or you may get a tattoo of a design that is no longer in fashion in 20 or 30 years. And when your skin starts to wrinkle and sag as you age, you may deeply regret making that earlier decision. If

Under pressure

out of your control Perhaps when you look in the mirror you feel negative thoughts for no reason. Or maybe you’re struggling with acne, headaches, or healthy eating. Don’t be afraid to seek help. There’s a wealth of knowledge available from your GP, a parent, or a school nurse or counsellor.

stay safe If you do participate in risky behaviours, take basic precautions to protect yourself and your friends. If you’re drinking, limit yourself so you don’t get drunk and never sip on anything from a fridge because you don’t know what’s in it. If you’re at a party, make a pact with a friend and look after each other. Never get into a car with a stranger, or with anyone who is drunk or high, as well as anyone who is texting or looks drowsy – they won’t be safe to drive. And don’t walk home alone in the dark – call a taxi instead.



PIC: Shutterstock


THE teen health Guide

Look after yo The average UK lifespan is 81 years. Ongoing maintenance means we eople think nothing of servicing and polishing cars or protecting iPhones with colourful, shatter-proof cases, but often fail to protect and groom themselves. Research suggests that people have an affinity to want to be near or with healthy, well-groomed people. This includes people who wash regularly, have clean teeth and look healthy. Generally it’s true that if you look good, you feel good, and


“If you feel healthy, energised and focused you’re likely to feel confident in your appearance and your abilities”

when you feel good, you’re more likely to achieve on the sports field, in the classroom, and more generally in life. If you feel healthy, energised and focused, you’re likely to feel confident in your appearance and your abilities. And with confidence, you can achieve anything. Bodily maintenance is an ongoing exercise and starts with a healthy, balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Regular exercise and good nutrition



Eat a healthy, balanced diet and maintain an active lifestyle. Take the stairs instead of the lift, get off one bus stop early and walk. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Shower and clean your face daily to maintain personal hygiene and promote cell replenishment. Use an antiperspirant after showering to maintain freshness all day. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to maintain healthy gums and teeth. Stretch before bed to maintain flexibility and posture as well as to avoid tense muscles or back pain.


Weigh yourself and calculate your BMI to ensure that you’re maintaining a healthy weight. Clean your bedroom to eradicate dust and declutter your surroundings. Throw away, recycle or sell anything that you don’t use.


Visit the dentist every six months for a check-up. Get your sight tested every two years by visiting an optician. If you feel that you suffer from poor hearing, get your ears checked by a professional. If you have aches and pains that don’t go away, or anything feels abnormal, head to your GP without delay.

our body

stay healthy, fit and attractive for longer…

Eat too much, don’t exercise enough, and you put on weight...

help keep joints lubricated, your body flexible, and your heart healthy. What you put into your body will show on the outside, which means that consuming lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and water will make you look healthier and lead to a better physique. Aside from this, there are key things that you should do on a regular basis to maintain good health. Check out the panels above to see what they are.



Growing Growing pains are intense cramping sensations that occur in the lower legs of children and teenagers. Though opinions vary on whether such pains indicate a growth spurt or are simply unexplained pains, such sensations are common and usually completely harmless. They can be treated at home by taking simple painkillers with advice from parents or a pharmacist. To minimise the symptoms firmly massage the legs, apply warm heat packs to the affected areas and wear supportive footwear such as trainers. Growing pains are entirely normal but if you feel any of the following, it may indicate something other than growing pains, and you should visit your GP to get examined if: ■ The pain is in your joints, rather than your muscles, or if your joints are swollen. ■ The pain is present in just one leg. ■ The pain is felt or spreads to the arms and your back. ■ The pain occurs every night or continues into the next day. ■ You develop a temperature, fever or start to lose weight suddenly. ■ You struggle to walk or develop a limp.


THE teen health Guide

Body Image Like to change something about your body? Nature may do it for you...

ow often have you heard people claim that they’re too fat or too short, or want a smaller nose or bigger muscles? Having a negative body image and feeling self-conscious about the way that you look is common in your teenage years, but don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone is different and that’s a good thing. Perfect models and ripped footballers appear on TV, social media, billboards, and in the newspapers, but most have armies of people to fix their hair and make-up and airbrush their Instagram snaps. And sportspeople

PIC: Shutterstock


“As a teenager you’re still changing, growing and developing”

spend far longer in the gym than most people can manage – it’s their job after all. It’s easy to compare yourself and feel inadequate, but trying to live up to an illusion of perfection is dangerous and unattainable. All teens have something they wish they could change. But you’re still growing and developing, and you’ll do so until your early twenties. It’s likely that you’ll look very different in a few years, compared with now, and what’s perceived as attractive now is likely to be very different as you move through life.

Weight and BMI Scales can’t tell you what the right weight is for your height. BMI (body mass index) measures your weight relative to your height, so you know if you’re under- or over-weight. Here’s how to work it out:

[your weight] kg divided by [your height] metres, then divided by [your height] metres again:

Body mass index categories vary depending on your age and sex. Go to to find your BMI underweight normal weight overweight obese This calculation can be inaccurate for athletic builds as the formula does not differentiate between weight which is muscle or fat.

Changing bodies During puberty, at around 11 to 12 years old, your body starts to change. Girls Curvier shape, wider hips, thighs and bottom, stretch marks boys Broadening of chest and shoulders, body hair, muscles



Eating disorders In the UK, 1.6 million people suffer from eating disorders. But when do poor eating habits turn into a disorder? hen you think of an eating disorder, you may think of anorexia or bulimia and associate them with girls. But disorders in males are on the rise, can affect people at any age, and can come and go. The term ‘eating disorder’ covers any abnormal eating behaviour or relationship to food. It occurs when poor eating habits turn into obsessive rituals, and it can have damaging consequences. Anorexia sufferers obsess over weight and eat as little as possible. Bulimics, on the other hand, gorge and then purge their bodies of food by vomiting. There’s also a disorder called pica, when you replace food with items of no nutritional value, such as a sponge, grass or bark. Eating disorders can lead to sufferers purchasing diet pills, using the gym obsessively, or using

PIC: Shutterstock


laxatives or diuretics to remove excess water from their bodies. No one can say why eating disorders occur, but feeling stress or having a negative body image are likely reasons. In a world of celebrities, sportspeople, and perfect-looking photos on social media, it’s easy to compare your body with those crafted from a rigorous training schedule or airbrushed and feel like you don’t measure up. But you shouldn’t try to be anyone other than you. Eating disorders are dangerous as they change the natural way your body consumes food to turn into energy, so you can function. If you limit calorie intake dramatically or eat and then vomit, your body doesn’t get the correct nutrients to work properly. This can lead to fatigue, fainting, hair loss, severe tooth decay and even death.

Tell-tale signs of an eating disorder… ■ Rapid weight loss or frequent weight changes. ■ Feeling lethargic and/or not sleeping well. ■ Obsession with eating, food, body shape or weight. ■ Distorted body image – feeling bigger or smaller than you actually are. ■ Obsessing about dieting, fasting, counting calories. ■ Binge eating.

Need help with an eating disorder? Then speak to the support group Beat (b-eat. or your GP in confidence.


THE teen health Guide



Your first taste of independence will allow you to try all sorts of new things. The big question is – should you?

eenage years can be tricky; you’ll probably have more freedom than ever before and have offers to try and experience new things. For instance, you may be thinking about trying (or have already tried) smoking, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs. After weighing up the facts, whatever you decide must be up to you. It’s not ok to be pressured into doing something that makes you uncomfortable.

PIC: Shutterstock


Alcohol Your parents may have allowed you a taster already, maybe with a meal or at an event. While alcohol is easily obtained, many forget that it can be dangerous. As with most things, moderation is key as alcohol can be addictive. Those who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than anyone who starts drinking at age 20. As a teenager, your body and mind are still developing, and being drunk can make you vulnerable. You lose your inhibitions when you drink alcohol so you might do things that you wouldn’t normally do when sober. When drunk, you may become violent, get injured, or have unprotected sex. Being drunk isn’t a good idea at any age, but when you’re young, it

could put you in situations that are potentially life-changing in the long term. For example, having unprotected sex could lead to having a baby. Are you ready to take care of a child for the rest of your life? Smoking “Smoking kills.” There’s a reason why the government makes advertisers print this on cigarette packages; smoking will damage your health. And the earlier you pick up a cigarette, the more damage you’ll do. A smoker who starts at 15 years old is three times more likely to die of cancer than a person who starts smoking in their mid-20s. Lung capacity decreases when you smoke, which means that every bit of exercise can become a chore, and regular exercise is essential for everybody. Smoking also leads to stained teeth, dull, wrinkled skin, and bad

“During your teenage years it’s important to respect individual choices”

breath. After years of sustained smoking the lungs can develop irreversible breathing disorders like emphysema. However good you may think smoking looks, the years you’ll add to your appearance might make you regret it. It’s expensive, too; on average, it will cost you £27.54 per week or £1432 per year. In a lifetime, the average smoker spends a whopping £90,000 on cigarettes. Drugs The biggest issue with illegal drugs and legal highs is that you can never be sure exactly what you’re taking. Most legal highs have been found to contain chemicals that are unfit for human consumption, which can lead to death. Like being drunk, being high can have a negative impact on your developing body and mind and can place you in a vulnerable position. A drug addiction can have long-term consequences on your education, physical and mental health, relationships, career, and finances. While lots of people smoke cannabis and say it relaxes them, this and other drugs can affect people in different ways. If you’re worried about the potential consequences, just say no.

For more information on drug and alcohol dependency in West Berkshire, call The Edge - 01635 582002


The law Alcohol It’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18, for an adult to buy it for anyone under 18 or for under-18s to drink in bars or pubs (unless it’s beer, wine or cider bought by an adult for a 16 or 17year old to be consumed with a table meal).

Smoking It’s illegal for under-18s to buy cigarettes, rolling tobacco, cigarette papers and other smoking products. ■ If an under-16 is smoking in a public place, a police officer has a duty to confiscate any smoking products.

Drugs Drug laws are complex, but it’s illegal to possess or supply class A, B and C drugs (that’s most things). ■ Possessing cannabis can mean a warning or £90 fine. ■ Laws introduced in April 2016 make it illegal to produce or supply legal highs.

Need help? ■

■ ■ ■

For help to quit smoking, visit for help and advice



THE teen health Guide


basics of

First aid

Knowing what to do in the event of a medical emergency could mean the difference between life and death.

earning first aid needn’t be daunting. Anyone can learn life-saving tips to help someone who is in danger or discomfort. These situations are common, so be prepared. Follow these techniques from St John Ambulance ( uk), the nation’s leading first aid charity.

PIC: Shutterstock



In an emerge ncy always shout for help . Dealing with an emergenc y sit stressful enou uation is gh without having to man age it by yourself.


1 2

Encourage the casualty to try to cough it up.

If coughing doesn’t work, help the casualty bend forward. Use the heel of your hand to give up to five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades. Check their mouth for a blockage then get them to pick it out.


If back blows don’t work, give up to five abdominal thrusts. Stand behind them, link your hands between their tummy button and the bottom of their chest, with your lower hand clenched in a fist. Pull sharply inwards and upwards.

If they’re still choking, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to three times or until you’ve dislodged what’s in there and they can breathe again.


If they’re still choking after you’ve repeated these steps three times, call 999 or 112 for medical help. Continue steps 2 and 3 until it’s cleared or help arrives.


Unconscious & not breathing


If they’re unconscious, open their airway by placing one hand on their forehead and two fingers under their chin. Gently tilt their head back and lift the chin.


Maintain the head tilt and chin lift, and look for chest movement. Listen for the sounds of normal breathing and see if you can feel their breaths on your cheek.

Repeat once. Carry on giving 30 chest compressions then two rescue breaths until help arrives. If the casualty starts breathing, stop CPR and put them in the recovery position (see panel to the right).



The recovery position 1

■ With the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side.



Call 999. Next you’ll need to perform CPR cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Kneel down beside the casualty on the floor, level with their chest. Place the heel of one hand towards the end of their breastbone, in the centre of their chest.


Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand and interlock your fingers, making sure you keep the fingers off the ribs.


Lean over the casualty, with your arms straight, pressing down vertically on the breastbone, and press the chest down by 5-6cm.


Release the pressure without removing your hands from their chest. Allow the chest to come back up fully. Repeat 30 times, about twice a second. Give two rescue breaths.


Ensure the casualty’s airway is open. Pinch their nose firmly closed. Take a deep breath and seal your lips around their mouth. Blow into the mouth until the chest rises. Remove your mouth and allow the chest to fall.


Is something blocking the wound? Don’t move it as it may be acting as a plug to reduce bleeding. Apply pressure on either side of the wound with a pad or fingers until a sterile dressing is available.


Raise and support the injured body part above the heart to reduce blood flow.

■ Place the arm nearest you at a right angle to their body with their hand upwards, towards the head. ■ Tuck their other hand under the side of their head, so that the back of their hand is touching their cheek.



Call 112 or 999 and firmly wrap a bandage around the pad or dressing on top of the wound. Make it firm enough to maintain pressure, but not so tight that it restricts circulation.


If blood shows through the dressing while you wait for help, apply a second dressing on top of the first and continue this process. Keep pressure applied to the bleeding area when bandaging as you support and raise the injured area.

■ Bend the knee furthest from you to a right angle. ■ Carefully roll the person onto their side by pulling on the bent knee.


■ The top arm should be supporting the head and the bottom arm will stop you rolling them too far. ■ Open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin, and check that nothing is blocking their airway.

PIC: Shutterstock


THE teen health Guide

Skin conditions & keeping safe in the sun Skin problems are no fun, but there are easy ways to avoid issues like acne and sunburn

veryone experiences spots at some point and over 80% of teenagers experience acne. Despite what you might think, spots and acne are rarely caused by poor hygiene; they’re usually due to hormone imbalances during puberty. Your skin produces more oil, pores become blocked and then spots appear. Spots can appear at any age, even in adulthood. While spots and acne are normal and tend to reduce as you get older, there are things you can do to help keep them at bay:


■ Keep your skin clean and take make-up off at night. ■ Use washes and topical creams designed for the face. ■ Drink lots of water to keep your skin clear and hydrated. ■ Visit your GP who may be able to prescribe pills or creams to

deal with hormone imbalances. There are lots of treatments available, so if what you try first doesn’t work, there are other options you can try. ■ A pharmacist will be

happy to provide advice on appropriate over-thecounter acne treatments. Most pharmacists even have a consulting room so you could discuss this in private.

Keeping safe in the sun When you come into contact with sunshine, your body releases the ‘happiness’ hormone serotonin, which lifts your mood and increases your energy levels. But too much sun is dangerous as ultra-violet (UV) rays can invisibly damage your skin. These UV rays, also emitted on sunbeds, are there even if the sun doesn’t feel hot and they cause sun damage

which can lead to skin cancer. To stay safe in the sun: ■ Stay in the shade from 11am-3pm when the rays are strong. ■ Don’t let your skin get burnt. ■ Wear protective clothing; a hat and sunglasses. ■ Use at least factor 30 sunscreen with a five-star UVB rating. ■ Get a spray tan instead of using a sunbed or lying outside.



Dealing with


The bad news: one in six teens gets headaches regularly. The good news: they’re easily treated. or many, headaches are unusual occurrences, but for some they’re a fact of life. As with any pain, a headache is your body telling you that something isn’t right, and


while the problem may go away on its own, it may not. If you’re regularly suffering from headaches take action, as there could be an underlying cause. Besides – why suffer pain when you don’t have to?

Types of headache

PIC: Shutterstock

Tension headaches: ■ The most common form. ■ Feels like a dull ache with constant pressure on the front, top and side of the head. ■ Caused by stress, excess alcohol, lack of sleep, poor diet, dehydration, anxiety, squinting, inactivity, poor posture, bright sunlight, and/or depression. Migraines: ■ Less common. ■ Recurrent and disabling. ■ A pounding or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. ■ Can be successfully treated with medication. ■ Early treatment

helps prevent the headache from escalating. ■ Best treated by avoiding the trigger, which might be cheese, chocolate, coffee/tea, alcohol, soy/MSG, ice creams, processed meats or artificial sweeteners. Secondary headaches: ■ Occur because of something else, such as too much alcohol, suffering a head injury or concussion, a cold/flu or an allergic reaction.

Treatment & prevention


Keep hydrated and don’t skip meals. Drink two litres of water each day and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.


Drinking alcohol dehydrates you; excessive drinking can lead to a nasty headache. If you’re drinking, drink slowly and intersperse drinks with water.


If you’re stressed, try to identify the trigger. Fixing the underlying cause could save you more headaches.


Try to get around eight hours’ sleep every night. A headache can be a sign that you need more quality rest.


If your headaches are due to depression or anxiety, talk to a parent, guardian or health care professional – and quickly.


Most headac hes are minor and easily tre ated severe, unreso but a recurrent head lving or ache always be chec should ked by your GP.


THE teen health Guide

Tattoos & piercings Tattoos and piercings demonstrate your individuality, but don’t go and do something you might regret…

attoos and piercings are big business. David Beckham, Rihanna, and lots of other celebrities have adorned themselves with personalised body art. But remember: tattoos are permanent, plus it’s expensive, time-consuming, and painful to reverse tattoos later. So if you’re thinking of getting inked, consider that your choice of design now may differ from what you would want on your


body later in life. Will you want Ibiza 2017 written on your arm or the name of your partner on your neck when you’re 65? Same with piercings; a tongue or belly ring might feel rebellious now, but will you feel embarrassed by it in 10 years’ time? If you still decide to go ahead, go to a safe, regulated place to avoid infection.


Know the law

The statistics 1 in 5 people in the UK has a tattoo


29% 14% 19%

of 16-44 year olds have a tattoo

PIC: Shutterstock

of teachers have a tattoo

of 18 to 25-year olds get inked while abroad on holiday

There’s no legal age of consent but under-16s can’t consent to piercing of the genitals – that may require permission from a parent.

Tattoos It’s illegal to tattoo anyone under 18. By law, studios for tattoos and piercings should ask important health questions, check your age and give advice about hygiene, healing and infection. When choosing a studio for a tattoo or piercing: ■ Make sure they’re regulated and registered at or with the local authority. ■ Get a recommendation from a friend and check out their work before you commit. ■ Be certain that gloves are used, the studio appears clean and a new needle is used.



top tips on

Beating the flu

No one likes having the flu. Symptoms can knock you off your feet. Learn how to combat the flu before it strikes, and make it disappear fast if you do come down with it

BEFORE THE ONSET f you feel the flu coming (any aches and pains, cough, fever, headache, runny nose?), drink plenty of fluids to hydrate your body. Tea and soups work, too, it doesn’t have to be just water. Flu can be serious, so you may need to get a flu vaccine, which is free to you. Check the NHS website to see if this applies to you:

PIC: Shutterstock




If you develop the flu, stay at home and rest. You’re contagious right now and you don’t want to spread germs at school or work. Plus, if you try to power through it, it may take you longer to get better. This is a great opportunity to binge-watch a Netflix series or dig into a mystery novel…


Get some advice from a pharmacist about medications which might help you to feel better.


If you have a cough, try an over-the-counter medicine to treat dry or tickly coughs and to help alleviate the pain.


Cough sweets or lozenges will also help reduce sore throats and dry coughs.


If the symptoms get worse after a few days, visit your GP or call 111 for further medical advice. Remember, antibiotics will not cure the flu because the flu is a virus and antibiotics work only on bacteria.


Get as much sleep as possible to boost your immune system.


Take a decongestant to stop your nose from dripping.


Coughs spread th and sneezes unwell y e flu, so when ou home. U should stay at si keeping ng tissues and your ha nds clea can prev n ent your germ spreading s to you r mates.


THE teen health Guide

Festival survival guide

Festivals are a top opportunity to hang out with mates, watch great bands, and impress strangers with your dance moves

eep your mobile fully charged Invest in a batterypowered portable charger (and pack extra batteries) to keep your phone charged during the event. At some point you’ll probably get separated from your mates, need to call home or have to take a selfie.


■ Leave valuables at home Leave the ipad, Ray-Bans and credit cards behind; don’t tempt fate.

PIC: Shutterstock

■ Be sensible Violence at festivals is unusual but you could get injured while crowd-surfing or moshing. Move away from any rough behaviour that gives you an ‘uh-oh’ feeling. ■ Buy earplugs It seems mad to pay loads to go to a festival just to use earplugs, but standing right next to crazy-

loud speakers will hurt your ears and will damage your hearing over time. ■ Split your money ATMs are hard to find (and usually charge costly fees) so you’ll need to carry cash. Split it between your wallet and day bag and keep both on you or within your sight. Take a debit card for any emergencies. ■ Stay hydrated Pack a water bottle so you can fill up cheaply and easily throughout the day, especially in hot weather. ■ Keep alert Particularly if you’re drinking, keep your wits about you. Make sure that you tell your mates (and parents) where you’re going, watch out for drink spiking and don’t make yourself a target for theft. It’s rare – but it can happen.

Planning ahead Top survival kit

Portable phone charger and extra batteries. Day pack use it to pack the stuff that won’t safely fit in pockets. Sunglasses & sun cream These will help to protect you from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Water bottle go for a Brita or something that can filter tap water. Toilet paper a festival musthave!


body Summary t’s tempting to want to change yourself. That might mean applying a fake tan or make-up, or making more permanent modifications such as getting a tattoo or piercing. While it may seem like a good idea to get the same tattoo as your favorite singer or sports player, think ahead as you may regret it. If you’re taking the plunge, keep inside the law and stay safe. By caring for your body, you’re investing in your future self. Your body has to last into old age, and while you may not think that far ahead, it’s important to keep clean and well-groomed. If you’re feeling self-conscious, keep in mind that as a teenager

PIC: Shutterstock


you go through many changes. What bothers you now may not in a few years. And never feel pressured to change who you are for others, or get involved in anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Key points


Remember there is no ‘normal’ - celebrate your uniqueness.


Modifying your body can last a lifetime – so think before you ink!


Don’t feel pressured into drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs.


Your body is your most important asset, so taking care of it is really important…

The best body apps

All free and suitable for both Apple and Android phones, these apps will help you make the most of your body: Smoke Free: Want to quit cigarettes? Chart your progress, visualise how long you’ve been smoke-free… and how much money you’ve saved. St. John Ambulance first aid: Have all the basic first aid skills at your fingertips and learn life-saving techniques. Record Recovery: Supporting your recovery from an eating disorder, this lets you connect with other users for support, record meals and plan with a therapist.

read mor e

■b ■ tal uk kt ■ sja ofrank.c .o first om -aidj ad a/ aspx vice.


THE teen health Guide


An active lifestyle and a healthy, varied diet are key to a happy life and a great physique. But what does a ‘balanced’ diet mean?

he saying goes that it takes ‘80% diet and 20% exercise’ to maintain a suitable weight and to get the physique you’ve been dreaming of. What you put into your body plays a huge part in your outward appearance, your mood, and how active you are. If you eat and drink well, you’ll be alert, focused, and bursting with energy. On the next page, find out how to tweak what’s on your plate to feel great.

PIC: Istock


Eatwell Guide Use the Eatwell Guide to help you get a balance of healthier and more sustainable food. It shows how much of what you eat overall should come from each food group. Choose wholegrain or higher fibre versions with less added fat, salt and sugar

Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day

Eat less often and in small amounts

Eat more beans and pulses, 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week, one of which is oily. Eat less red and processed meat

Choose lower fat and lower sugar options

Choose unsaturated oils and use in small amounts

Visit for healthy eating tips and advice!




The Benefits of a healthy di Controls weight A balanced diet helps maintain your healthy weight. Eat five portions of fruit and veg a day; they’re lowcal but high in nutrients. Combats diseases It helps prevent certain health conditions such as heart disease and strokes. Also maintains your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Energy boost

By eating the right food in the right amounts, you’ll have more energy to exercise. This improves muscle strength, creates a toned physique and improves your endurance. Improves mood Eating healthy foods and staying slim makes you more likely to exercise. Being active helps you feel happier and calmer. As your physique becomes stronger and leaner,

your confidence and selfesteem will rise (a win-win!). Poor diet Predictably, a poor diet has the opposite effect. Lots of fast food, sweets and fizzy drinks will leave you feeling sluggish and bloated with no energy to exercise. A lack of colourful food, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, could leave you suffering from weight gain as well as a greater chance of contracting disease.

What, how much & when? The foods we eat can be put into the following groups: Carbohydrates Found in pasta, cereals, and potatoes, carbs have a bad reputation but are crucial for energy. ‘White’ or refined carbs can lead to energy crashes, so eat wholemeal or wholegrain bread or pasta for a healthier alternative.

Minerals These help release energy from food. Look for them in fruits, vegetables, and fish. Calcium strengthens bones, iodine produces energy, and iron maintains red blood cell health which prevents fatigue.


Fats Stick mostly with unsaturated ‘good’ fats in oils, nuts, and fish, and eat fewer saturated ‘bad’ fats in processed foods and butter, to avoid weight gain.

Found in meat, poultry, fish, and pulses, it’s important for muscle repair, particularly after exercising.

Fibre This, in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, helps you have regular bowel movements and feel full.


Vitamins Lots of vitamins from fresh fruits and vegetables aid concentration and help maintain healthy bones, teeth, and skin.

drink 6-8 Per day

Vital for all bodily functions, water is the most natural and beneficial thing you can drink. Limit fruit juice and/or smoothies to a total of 150ml a day.

check the label on packaged foods Remember to check the traffic light system when selecting packaged foods. The more green on the label, the healthier the food or drink is. Amber means neither high nor low, but take care with labels with lots of red as these items often contain the most sugar and fat!

Source: Public Health England in association with the Welsh government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland


THE teen health Guide

BalancedDiet It’s easy to choose a salad over a burger for lunch and congratulate yourself. But how do you keep up healthy eating in the long term?

t’s easy to think that if you’re trying to be healthy or lose weight, cutting out entire food groups or tasty treats might sound like a good idea. But undereating can be just as dangerous as overeating. It can cause the body to go into starvation mode and retain fat, as well as make you feel rubbish. Over-eating or binge eating on sweets and snacks is bad news, too. The table below shows how many calories you should consume (on average), but if you’re really active, you may need more.


PIC: Shutterstock




13 10,100kJ/2414kcal 9,300kJ/2223kcal 14 11,000kJ/2629kcal 9,800kJ/2342kcal 15 11,800kJ/2820kcal 10,000kJ/2390kcal 16 12,400kJ/2964kcal 10,100kJ/2414kcal 17 12,900kJ/3083kcal 10,300kJ/2462kcal 18 13,200kJ/3155kcal 10,300kJ/2462kcal * Source =

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Visit www.solutions4health. to learn how to manage your weight today


Each Sunday, prepare all five of your weekday lunches ahead of time so you’ll have more time (and less stress!) on weekday mornings. For some interesting lunch ideas, see the box below.


Scheduling One of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating is not planning ahead. Scheduling your food may seem odd, but it’s a great habit to get into. When you’re starving and you have no time to prepare a dish, it’s all too easy to grab fast food or a chocolate bar, both of which can do damage to your waistline and wallet.

Breakfast: You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? It’s true! You probably haven’t eaten since the previous evening, so your body needs food. Get into a routine when you wake up, so you remember to eat breakfast and allow yourself enough time for it. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal; just a small bowl of porridge or a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie will satisfy your hunger, rev up your metabolism, and give you enough energy to get through the morning.

lunch: The healthiest way to do lunch is to pack your own. Taking your own lunch to school, work, or college will save loads of money – plus you can ensure that you’re eating healthily.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s fine to snack, as long as you’re eating the right foods. Nuts, berries, seeds, fruits, or oatcakes are wholesome, healthy snacks that will offer you all the right nutrients and energy without the hidden sugars and fats that are often found in cereal bars or crisps.

Evening: Try to sit and eat a full meal in the evening and put many fresh vegetables on your plate. Be creative and try new things. Why not get a healthy eating cookbook and learn some new recipes? Remember to allow yourself a treat now and then, whether it’s with Nando’s or a McFlurry. The key to a good diet is balance.

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packed lunch

Who said packed lunches need to be sandwiches (boring!)? Get creative with your lunchbox by subbing your sandwiches for these tasty alternatives:

■ Salad: Maybe not the most exciting, but add chicken, tuna, hardboiled eggs or ham to add taste and variety. ■ Couscous: It’s quick to prepare and easy to mix it with vegetables. ■ Vegetarian: Enjoy lashings of nuts, cheese and avocado.


■ Pasta: Opt for wholegrain pasta and whip up a healthy sauce with tinned tomatoes for a wholesome alternative. ■ Houmous: A small container of houmous and some carrot sticks or wholegrain breadsticks is a great way to introduce healthy fats and vegetables to your lunchtime meal.


THE teen health Guide

Stay hydrated

Drink up

The liquids that you consume, just like the foods that you eat, can make you feel amazing or “ugh”, depending on which ones you choose

What’s good


What’s bad

Nothing! Drink it throughout the day to stay hydrated.

It has no calories and no sugar, so it’s the healthiest thing to drink.

When Drink 1.6 to should you drink 2.0 litres it? throughout the day, more if it’s hot or after exercise.


If the taste is too bland, add a slice of lemon or orange to add natural flavour.

Tea & Smoothies coffee

Fizzy drinks

Energy drinks


Most count toward your five-a-day fruit and veggie target.

Tea and coffee both contain antioxidants, cancerfighting properties.

Nothing! That’s why you should avoid them.

This is useful for the replenishment of electrolytes during high-energy sporting activities.

When you’re out with your mates it’s very social to drink beer, until you overdo things.

The naturally occurring sugars in fruit can damage your teeth.

These drinks are high in caffeine, so they make you feel temporarily alert, then drowsy.

High in sugar and low in nutrients, which can lead to weight gain.

These tend to be high in sugar and often contain artificial flavours.

It alters your behaviour and decreases your inhibitions.

Smoothies are healthy in moderation – have no more than one per day

Drunk in moderation and early in the day, tea and coffee are not harmful.

Don’t make this a daily habit. Have one only once in a while as a treat.

Consume sports drinks only during or after highintensity exercise.

Never, if you’re under 18. Over-18s shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week.

Grab no-addedsugar varieties or if you make your own, include greens.

Try green or herbal teas, or de-caff coffee/tea to avoid the huge caffeine buzz.

Sip on sparkling water or soda water as a healthier alternative.

Get the lowcal version of the sports drink or water it down with lots of ice. Or try tinyurl. com/zd8vk

Opt for a soft drink instead of alcohol, or an alcoholfree wine/ alcohol-free beer.




It’s easy to reach for energy drinks when you’re tired, but eating wholesome foods means that you don’t need quick fixes to boost your concentration

verything that your body needs to perform at its best is natural and readily available. Whether it’s the nutrients from fruit and vegetables, the protein from oily fish or the ‘good’ unsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds, the foods that are the natural products of the earth tend to be the best for your body. And your wallet…


Best for tissue repair BLUEBERRIES Bursting with vitamin C, these can help repair damaged muscles and other tissues, helping to keep you strong and healthy. The vitamin C can also help your gut absorb iron.

PIC: Shutterstock

Best for increased energy OATS Opt for porridge oats for breakfast to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Oats are high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and they’ll relieve tiredness and offer energy throughout the day. Best for relaxation MILK: Warm milk before bed has a calming effect as

it produces serotonin, which promotes sleep and relaxation. Best for stamina BANANAS If you want to improve sporting endurance, bananas should become your best friend. Without the chemicals or cost, bananas have been proven to be just as beneficial as energy drinks. Full of potassium, bananas are used by the pro’s as a workout tool to boost stamina and exertion. Best for good skin WATER Drinking lots of water is the easiest and most natural way to get a glowing complexion. Research has

found that by drinking as little as 500ml per day increases blood flow to the skin. Try to drink at least a litre of water throughout the day to keep constipation at bay. Best for if you’re feeling under the weather CITRUS FRUITS Taking vitamin C at the first sign of a cold can reduce the lifespan of the cold by one day, which is wonderful news if you’re suffering. Eat fruits such as oranges whole, or opt for lemon or lime wedges in water.


THE teen health guide

Saints, sinners & substitutions Sometimes, ‘sugar free’ or ‘low in fat’ don’t mean what you think...

ith so many choices on the supermarket shelves it can be hard differentiating between products. Making healthy decisions can be exhausting, so sometimes it’s easier to opt for a familiar product even if it’s not the healthiest – it’s hard to know when to make substitutions.


Vitamins &

PIC: Shutterstock


Calcium: To maintain healthy bones and teeth, drink lots of milk. Vitamin D: To absorb calcium more readily, try to eat plenty of oily fish. Vitamin C: For healthy skin and to boost your immune system, eat citrus fruits. Zinc: To maintain a healthy immune system consume nuts on a regular basis.

Sinner Cereal bars Often disguised as a healthy option, they’re usually packed with sugar, refined grains and even chemicals.

Substitute for…


Nuts If you’re feeling peckish and need a snack, have a handful of unsalted nuts such as almonds and cashews.

Salad dressing Why opt for a fresh salad just to pour a processed salad dressing on it? Many dressings are high in saturated fat, sugar, salt, and hidden calories.

Olive oil or balsamic vinegar If you can’t bear the taste of bare salad leaves, go for a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to add flavour without the unhealthy stuff.

Processed fruit juices Lots of supermarket-bought fruit juices are full of artificial sweeteners, sugar and preservatives – but surprisingly little fruit.

‘Real’ fruit juices Grab some oranges and get juicing! Squeeze your own for freshness or choose water flavoured with your favourite fruit for a speedier alternative.

‘Low fat’ alternatives The supermarket shelves are now packed with ‘low-fat’ offerings but in order to keep the taste good, they usually contain a lot of added sugar.

Real food Real food doesn’t need a label. If you instantly recognise what you’re eating, then it’s likely to be unprocessed, natural, and great for your body.

Visit Change4Life to get tips to cut your sugar intake


fuel summary here’s temptation everywhere to make poor nutritional choices. Often these can lead to bad habits which are difficult to break. Healthy eating should be considered a lifestyle change, rather than a short-term diet. If you eliminate entire food groups or deprive yourself of, say, chocolate, you’re more likely to binge or feel unhappy. A healthy diet is made up of lots of fresh, colourful foods – vegetables, fish, fruits, wholegrains, dairy, and lean meats. Scheduling is vital if you want to avoid picking up junk food on the go. Think about whether you can take packed lunches and make some up in advance. Get up early and make sure you have a substantial breakfast to get you through the morning. Research suggests that those who skip breakfast are more likely to make bad food choices and gain weight. There’s a wealth of knowledge on the internet to help you maintain a healthy diet.

PIC: Shutterstock


Recipes, schedules, and further information about the foods and drinks that you should be consuming can be found using the Read more links. And remember, healthy eating is about balance and moderation.

Key points


The healthiest foods you can choose are the ones without labels.

2 3

Undereating is just as unhealthy as overeating.

Never cut out entire food groups, and reward yourself with some treats.


A balanced diet benefits your body, brain, energy levels and bank balance. It’s a no-brainer

The best body apps All available for free, these apps will help you maintain a balanced, healthy diet: MyFitnessPal (iOs and Android): Track your daily calorie intake by scrolling through the database to see what you’re eating and when. Foodplanner (iOs and Android): Organise all of your healthy eating recipes and the app will compile a shopping list of all the ingredients that you’ll need. Carbodroid (Android): Set a daily goal for water intake and tap the bottle icon to check your progress.

Use the Change4Life Be food smart app and Change4Life sugar swap app to help balance your diet!

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THE teen health Guide

Putting Fitne Want to feel better, have more energy, look great and even live longer? If the answer is yes, then lace up your trainers re you reaping the rewards of exercise? Regular physical activity provides a host of health benefits for the body and mind, and the best bit is that you don’t have to pay for pricey gym memberships or gadgets to stay fit.


Why exercise? An active lifestyle provides lots of benefits including better speed, endurance, strength, and muscle tone, improved sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and happier moods. Keeping fit and eating healthily leads to a longer life expectancy and fewer health problems, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Exercising regularly keeps your blood flowing and boosts the production of ‘good’ cholesterol, while decreasing the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol, cutting your risk of heart disease. Physical activity also encourages the release

of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins that make you happier and more relaxed. Exercising regularly when you’re not studying is key to improving concentration and mental sharpness when you are. Although exercise can leave you feeling temporarily exhausted, it can improve your energy level in the long term. By encouraging the rapid delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, exercise helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently so you have more energy. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to control your weight, as the more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. It also increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories at rest. People who exercise regularly also tend to feel better about their appearance and have improved self-esteem. So what are you waiting for?

“Physical activity encourages the release of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins that make you feel happier” Keeping fit improves your mind as well as your body


ess first Regular exercise is one of the best ways you can control your weight.


How much exercise is


You should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Aim for a mix of moderate movement, high-intensity movement, and strength training. Moderate exercise: Your heart rate increases, but you should be able to maintain a conversation. This is called the talk test. Moderate exercises include walking, biking slowly, doubles tennis, and doing housework. High-intensity exercise: Also known as vigorous exercise, this includes energetic dancing, running, swimming, martial arts, cycling fast, basketball, football, and singles tennis. Strength training: Three times a week you should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone. These include tug-of-war, sit-ups, pressups, gymnastics or rock climbing. Extra ways to sneak in activity: Get off the bus one stop earlier and walk further, take the stairs instead of the lift, or set up your own fitness circuit. Skip, run up the stairs, do lunges and squats all in the comfort of your own home.


THE teen health Guide

Achieve your It’s all very well deciding that you want to get fitter, but how do he first step to getting in shape is setting a goal. If you’re new to exercise, it should be something simple such as aiming to walk 15 minutes every day. Don’t get carried away or you’ll find it too easy to put


things off. If you’re more advanced your goal might be training for and completing a 5K charity race that’s happening in eight weeks. As a motivational tool, many goal-setters will create a training plan or chart on a computer or paper. Maybe,

Manage weight











Increase all-round strength

Eat breakfast each day, including a fibrebased cereal. Skipping breakfast leads to snacking during the day.

Begin with body weight exercises for a few weeks (such as sit-ups, push-ups, and squats) before using weights.

Do 30+ minutes of physical activity each day. Try walking or cycling or a more vigorous activity like running or tennis.

Ask a trainer about strength-training exercises, perfecting your form, and stretching before and after working out.

Increase your ‘incidental’ exercise. Take the stairs instead of the lift and replace short bus journeys with walking or cycling.

Use resistance bands or climb on playground equipment such as bars or ropes to challenge your muscles and boost strength.

Cut out sugary snacks and drinks and high-fat foods. Eat at least two fruit and three veg portions daily.

Increase bone strength by practising yoga or tai chi, dancing, jumping, and climbing stairs.

While watching your favourite TV show, move your body. Do jumping jacks, knee raises, and kicks.

Join your school or local gym and commit to a strength routine three times each week.



fitness goals

you go about putting that into action? for instance, you want to record how many miles you run each day or how many pounds you lose each week. Add fun stickers to reward yourself; that visual reminder can help keep you focused. When identifying and setting goals, they should be SMART:

Improve general fitness

■ Specific: “I will do 10 press ups”, not “I will get stronger”. ■ Measurable: “I will run a 5k”, not “I will run more”. ■ Achievable: “I will do 60 minutes of activity per day”, not “I will go to the gym for 5 hours on Saturday”. ■ Realistic: “I will shave 30

seconds off my mile time”, not “I will run a four-minute mile”. ■ Time-bound: “I will join a sports team by the end of the year”, not “I will join a sports team”. The chart below contains a few examples of potential goals; use these to jump start your journey to better fitness.

Run a 5km race

get better at sport

Target specific muscles

Complete at least 10,000 steps per day (tracked via an app on your phone) for moderate exercise.

Buy a pair of comfortable running shoes and join a local running club for extra support.

Do at least one session of continuous exercise in your chosen sport for one hour per week.

Work with a trainer and learn proper technique to progress without raising your risk of injury.

When you’ve been sitting for an hour or more, stand up and stretch your hamstrings, quads, and calves for more flexibility.

Walk or jog three times a week for 15 minutes after school or college.

Try shorter bursts of intense exercise, with short breaks. Try three sets of five minutes of exercise, with three minutes of recovery.

Begin with body weight exercises, targeting all muscle groups (e.g. sit-ups, push-ups, and squats) before using weights.

For vigorous exercise join a sports team that does two weekly training sessions, plus a match.

Create intervals within your jog. That’s where you up the pace to a sprint between two landmarks, like a pair of postboxes.

Investigate plyometric training. These are jumping exercises designed to train the power muscles in your legs such as box jumps.

Work one day on a specific muscle group (e.g. back/shoulder), then rest the next day before you target another group (e.g. legs).

Work out at home or at the gym. Focus on core strength training.

Gradually increase your runs from 15 minutes to 30, to 45, to one hour.

Plan a training programme with shortterm goals, such as to cut two minutes off your 5k time in six weeks.

Cross train for one day; do a sport that helps condition muscles without using weights, such as swimming.

Add cross-training to the mix. Introduce cycling, swimming, or hitting up the elliptical.

Run that 5K and keep remember that it doesn’t matter how fast you go – all that matters is that you finish.

Undertake a fitness assessment to see which areas need improvement.

Have a cold glass of chocolate milk for protein and carbs after training sessions.


THE teen health Guide


QA &

Expensive gym memberships, costly equipment and designer sports gear; all nice, but unnecessary. There are loads of cheap or free alternatives... I take Q Should supplements such as

protein shakes? A: Shakes can help increase protein/food intake, but you should meet your dietary requirements from natural food sources such as eggs, meat, fish, nuts, dairy products, and legumes such as soybeans or lentils. If you do buy shakes, use a reputable source.


Do you have any tips for setting fitness goals? A: Make them specific and give yourself a deadline. “Get fitter/leaner/bigger” is too ambiguous, and without a target date it’s easy to put off any changes you need to make until “tomorrow”.

warming-up/down Q Isreally that important?

A: Yes, especially as many people have sedentary lifestyles. Stretch before and after so you’re loose and flexible; it reduces the odds of you suffering from injury and discomfort.

health and wellbeing, but only when it’s done properly. can you do to Q What stay motivated?

A: Make sure that your goal is attainable, or at least set shortterm goals that break down a bigger goal into achievable bitesized chunks. And ask a friend to hold you accountable.

it possible for Q Issomeone to over-train?

A: There’s no hard and fast rule. You may start to feel like you have more energy and see more muscle tone after a week, but 8-12 weeks is how long you’ll need to be consistent with your lifestyle changes to see significant differences.

A: Injuries including repetitive strain can be an issue. It’s easy for someone to over-train beyond his or her current fitness level, which is why it’s important to slowly build up the level of intensity. It’s crucial that you don’t view your fitness goals in isolation from the rest of your life. Everyday stresses take a physical toll; they all consume energy and if you add a hectic training regime when you’re already overwhelmed, it might prove to be too much.

old should I be Q How before I start weight

should I do postQ What workout to speed up

long before I Q How should see results?

lifting? A: It depends on when you go/went through puberty. Bodies mature at varying rates. Anyone under 16 should consult a qualified strength and conditioning coach before starting to lift weights, which should only be done under that person’s supervision. Weight training is a fantastic tool for

recovery? A: Eat and sleep. It’s that simple. Make sure you’re eating enough food to aid your body’s recovery from exercise and then provide it with enough sleep to aid the recovery process – aim for around nine hours per night.

tom batchelor Lead Sport Scientist at Harlequins rugby for three years, Tom has also worked with British Alpine skiing and Surrey Heat Basketball. Prior to working with Harlequins Tom was a successful personal trainer who worked with a wide range of clients.

Log on to Run Together West Berkshire runtogetherwestberks to join a free running group in your area!



Top tips for

Fitness on a shoestring walk Instead of getting the bus or asking for a ride, walk everywhere. Walking 10,000 steps a day can burn about 500 calories. Challenge yourself a little more by opting for the stairs instead of the lift.

Cycle Whether it’s to school, to your friend’s house, or just for fun, cycling is a great way to exercise and get from place to place. Make sure that you always wear a helmet to reduce the chance of injury.

run This is free and something that anyone can do. If you’re new to running, use the free NHS Couch to 5k initiative to get you off the sofa and running a 5k race in just nine weeks. There are podcasts and training plans online.

skip Skipping is a great cardio workout. You can burn up to 200 calories in 15 minutes. The health benefits of skipping include improved heart and lung fitness, strengthened bones plus improved balance and flexibility.

You don’t have to empty your wallet and part with your hardearned cash on a gym membership or some trendy piece of equipment. Save your money for other stuff (like clothes and concerts) and work out for free (or practically nothing) instead freebies Sites such as Freecycle, Gumtree, and eBay often have cheap (or even free) exercise equipment available. Search by location for items too expensive to post, such as dumbbells, and you may get a bargain.

playground When the children have gone home, the playground is a great place to do free circuit training. Combine it with running around the park, and use the monkey bars for pull ups to boost your upper body strength.

body weight Using your own body weight to train is the best way to improve your power-to-weight ratio. No equipment is necessary to perform sit-ups, press-ups or the plank, so you can exercise anywhere you like. For free.

Online classes There are loads of free fitness videos on Youtube – whether it’s yoga, pilates, strength training or belly-dancing. Even the British Army has an online fitness course. If it’s good enough for them...

mates If you like netball, tennis, football, or rounders, there are loads of public spaces and courts available to have a game. Even if you do have to pay, split the cost among your friends and it’ll still be ultra-cheap.


THE teen health Guide

Why not try

Team sports

Team sports are great for developing a whole range of skills. There’s bound to be an opportunity right up your street hile participating in team sports might not be everyone’s cup of tea, they promote team work, collaboration and a sense of belonging. It’s not all about fitness; gaining leadership and strategic skills is just as important as gaining athletic skills. Good team players respect their teammates, opposition, and game officials, and understand that different abilities are required for success. Being on a team will teach you that losing isn’t so bad, especially when it teaches you how to improve. You’ll make loads of friends, too. Traditional team games are great, but there are some new kids on the

PIC: Shutterstock


block, so don’t be afraid to try something that’s a little more outside the box: Ultimate Frisbee Two teams of seven players on a full-size football pitch have to get the frisbee to the opposite side without running with it. This game develops speed, hand-eye coordination, agility and endurance.

“It’s not all about fitness; gaining leadership and strategic skills are just as important as gaining athletic skills”

Lacrosse Using a lacrosse stick, players hold and throw a ball toward the opposite team’s net. It requires speed, stamina, teamwork, and focus, and you can burn 600 calories per hour. Muggle Quidditch Forget Hogwarts; the famous Harry Potter game has come to the UK. It’s a mix of rugby, dodgeball and handball, and it includes few tackles, so the sport is a good fit for athletes of all abilities. And it’s really fun!


“I’m rubbish at sport.”

“I can’t keep up.”

Some people are naturally gifted and others just practise a lot. You can’t expect to be an expert on day one, so grab a ball and practise with friends at the weekend, or run around your local park to improve your performance. If you practise and become better at the sport, you’ll be able to participate and will enjoy the classes far more.

It may not always feel like it but in P.E. classes you’re not being compared with each other. Everyone is different and has different sporting abilities. Instead of comparing yourself with others, try to challenge yourself to beat your previous time or see whether you can use another skill, such as leadership, to help your team win.


“I don’t know anyone.”

“What if I get laughed at?”

P.E. lessons are a great way to make new friends. Compliment people on their skills or team up with someone else who looks lonely – the lessons will be far more enjoyable with a pal.

Everyone gets things wrong sometimes, even the really sporty kids. If you mess up, make a joke of it. If you don’t make a big deal of it, it’s likely that others won’t either. And hey, at least you tried.

Get the most

out of P.E.

Does P.E. fill you with dread? It needn’t, because with the right approach you could even grow to like it...

.E. is like Marmite; you either love or hate it. If you’re not a naturally sporty person, or fear being the last person picked in team games, you’re not alone. And while you can decide not to try out for the school football and netball teams, you can’t skip P.E. classes. But with a change of attitude, you may realise that P.E. isn’t as bad as you first thought…

PIC: Istock


What’s the point? P.E. isn’t just about learning how to play games or run fast. You get out what you put in. With a good attitude and an open mind you’re likely to make new friends, learn to work as part of a team, push yourself, and understand how it feels to both win and lose.

THE teen health Guide




Taking steroids may seem like an easy short cut to looking ripped, but these drugs are dangerous e all have an idea of what fit and healthy looks like, but it’s not easy to spot a physical fitness cheat at the gym. They’re the ones who use drugs such as anabolic steroids, which are designed to mimic natural growth hormones and rapidly increase their muscle size, speed, and/ or power. Those who take steroids may look impressive – at first. Physical side effects can develop over time such as acne scarring, while mental and internal side effects can develop quickly such as mood swings and increased anger, or damage to the heart, blood vessels and liver.

PIC: Istock


“These drugs can cause psychological issues such as mood swings and increased anger” Steroid induced gains can be difficult to spot, so sports governing bodies have introduced drug testing. Blood or urine samples are

taken from athletes before or after competition to see if any are using steroids. This doesn’t just aim to identify cheats; it also stops users from damaging their bodies and helps catch suppliers. Anabolic steroids are a Class C drug and should be sold only legally, for medical purposes, with a doctor’s prescription. Over time, young men who abuse steroids may see shrinkage of the testicles, penis problems, pain when urinating, and breast growth. Young women may see the growth of facial hair, a deeper voice, a loss of hair on the head, and menstrual problems.

Visit a Legacy Leisure centre and improve your fitness today!



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fitness Summary t’s a common misconception that getting fit must cost a fortune. You probably see loads of ads every day, trying to sell you expensive gym memberships, cool new trainers, and techy fitness trackers. While it’s nice to know exactly how many steps you took yesterday, it ultimately doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you take every opportunity to be active. This could mean opting to run a 10k or simply cycling to school one day instead of catching the bus. Don’t despair if you’re not naturally sporty or if you’re not the fastest in the class. Even if you hate the traditional sports taught in school, give it your best and spend your weekends playing extreme Frisbee or Quidditch

PIC: Shutterstock


at the park with your mates. Combined with a healthy diet, an active lifestyle will help you maintain your ideal weight, give you more energy, and may help you make some more friends along the way.

Key points


Any activity is better than none. Take the stairs instead of the lift and get off one stop earlier on the bus.


Get involved in a local team to improve your fitness and make some new friends.


Getting fit doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Check out page 51 for our costsaving ideas.

You can get fit and lead an active, healthy lifestyle with just a few simple tweaks…

The best fitness apps All available for free and suitable for both Apple and Android phones, these apps will help you train effectively: Couch to 5k: This app helps you go (gradually) from sitting on the couch to running a 5K. Seven: Improve your fitness with seven minutes of exercise a day for seven months, using a wall, a chair, and your body weight. Nike+ Training App: Swipe through free workouts from master trainers, or link to your Nike kit to track your progress.


THE teen health Guide


sexual health Worried your mates are all having more fun than you? The chances are, they’re not having as much fun as they claim...

nderstanding teenage sexual health is much like understanding your peers – everyone is unique. All teens think differently, look differently and develop, both physically and mentally, at different rates. So to compare your sex life with your mates’ is impossible. Secondly, what they’re telling you may not be true. Thirdly, even if you could, who cares? There’s no point in worrying about what other people do and think. The only thing that matters is what is right for you.

PIC: Shutterstock


Relationships If you’re going to start a sexual relationship, the choice to do this must be yours. Use good judgment to consider whether you and the other person are both ready (physically and emotionally). If you’re not sure, say no and revisit the idea in a month or even a year’s time to see if you feel differently. Never feel pressured into doing something because you think you’re a late starter. It’s not a competition. You have your entire life to become sexual, so there is no rush. And sex always carries the risk of pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection. If you decide to have sex, make sure it’s with

consent and love and always, always use some form of protection. Self-respect In the UK, the legal age of consent to have sex is 16 and children under 13 cannot give their consent to any sexual activity. Despite this, lots of

“If you’re going to start a sexual relationship, the choice to do this must be yours” people wait until they have found a partner they love and feel that they will be with for a long time, whereas others wait until they are married. There is no right or wrong. Just make sure that you’re having sex because you want to. Feeling a sense of self-respect when it comes to your actions and choices is key, because it will lead to higher overall selfesteem and confidence in your everyday life. During your teenage years your body and possibly even your sexual preference may change, meaning a decision

you make today could be one you regret in the future. Sex and alcohol Alcohol, drugs, and sex can be a really bad combination. With excessive alcohol consumption, it’s likely that your inhibitions will be lowered and that your decision-making will be impaired. This can lead to having sex with someone you don’t like very much, being pressured or manipulated into sex, or pressurising someone else to have sex – this is child sexual exploitation – the police or children’s services can help. Make a pact with your friends to look out for each other at parties, especially if there’s drinking, and don’t be afraid to intervene if you think that a friend might be in danger. You may not be very popular at the time, but you will have done the right thing and it’s likely that your friend will be very grateful for your intervention the next day. As for protecting yourself, if you’re going to drink, do so in moderation and make sure that you’re never alone with someone who may pressure you into doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Visit Safe Sex Berkshire for sexual health guidance and services in your area




THE teen health Guide


what is normal?

Learn the truth about wet dreams, same-sex experimentation, masturbation, and more

et’s be real for a minute. When a conversation turns to sex, lots of people get uncomfortable and either clam up or lie to make themselves sound cool. So it can be tough to get honest answers about serious questions that you have on the topic. Or at least it was hard, until now.

PIC: Shutterstock


What does a ‘normal’ teenage body look like? It’s impossible to say. Just like how no two adult bodies look alike, every teen is built differently. Fat, thin, tall, short, skinny or athletic, we all have a unique look. For boys, during puberty, their muscles

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will develop, they’ll probably get taller, their voices will get deeper, and their body hair and genitals will grow. For girls, during puberty, most will develop a curvier physique (particularly across the hips and thighs), their breasts will develop and body hair will grow. Notably in girls, their periods start. While you should never compare yourself with others, it’s a good idea to discuss these changes with your close friends and/or family members. If you’re worried that you’re developing too slowly, visit your GP, who will be able to advise you. Is masturbation normal? Yes, it’s a very normal part of sexual development. Most teenagers have masturbated by the time they’ve reached 17. Regardless of what people say, lots of people do it and enjoy it – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s perfectly safe and can be a healthy outlet to explore your sexual identity and respond to your sexual drive.

Is same-sex experimenting normal? Am I gay? It’s normal. Not everyone experiments in this way, but a lot of people do. Experimentation is much more common than you might think You may be curious about the same sex and want to try it. It’s a way for you to assess your own growth and develop your sexual understanding. Experimenting with someone of the same sex does not


necessarily make you gay. But if you do identify as gay, that’s normal, too. What about wet dreams? Wet dreams are normal in puberty. While it can be alarming for boys, it’s simply your body’s reaction to what you’re feeling in a dream. It’s often forgotten that girls can wake up feeling wet, too – and again, it’s normal, and is something that lots of people also experience as adults.

“Experimenting with someone of the same sex does not necessarily make you gay”


How old are most teens when they lose their virginity? Studies have shown that many sexually experienced youths wish they had waited longer to have sex for the first time, or had other negative feelings about having started too soon. The best time is when you’re in a loving, stable relationship and don’t feel pressured into doing something that you don’t want to do.

60 THE teen health Guide


& pregnancy

The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. A lot of these pregnancies are planned – but many are not... ngage in unprotected sex and pregnancy may result. To help prevent an unplanned pregnancy, some form of protection must be used during sex, and some are more effective than others. No contraceptive is 100% reliable and some can have side effects. If you’re considering having a baby, think everything through. You can’t get out of education necessarily, because you must go to school until the end of Year 11. If you leave school at the end of Year 11, until you’re 18 you still have to either:


■ stay in full-time education, such as college ■ start an apprenticeship or traineeship

PIC: Istock

■ work or volunteer (for 20+ hours a week) while in part-time education or training If you’ve already left the education system there are other considerations. Money will probably be tight, you’ll suffer plenty of sleepless nights and your social life will disappear – your child must come first. Once your child is born there’s no turning back, so before becoming a parent make sure you really are ready for it.

Types of contraceptive

All contraceptives listed below are at least 92% effective if used as prescribed by a healthcare professional. ■ Condoms: Provides the best protection from STIs. ■ Diaphragms and Caps: These protect the area around the cervix from sperm. ■ Contraceptive pill: Your doctor can recommend a suitable pill. ■ Contraceptive injection: Done every 8-13 weeks. Highly effective if you struggle to remember to take a pill daily. ■ Contraceptive implant: Highly effective. Lasts three years. It’s a small tube inserted into the skin of the arm. ■ Intra-uterine system: A very effective device which sits inside the uterus and can be used to treat heavy periods. ■ Intra-uterine device: Sits inside the uterus. Good if you can’t have synthetic hormones. ■ Contraceptive patch: Protects from pregnancy, but not from STIs. Vaginal Ring: Releases hormones to protect from pregnancy but not STIs.

Free contraception advice and treatments can be found at GP surgeries, community contraception clinics, plus some sexual health and young people services.

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Porn & online dangers Pornography is more accessible than ever and most teens admit to having watched it, but what happens when curiosity becomes addiction? ype pretty much anything into google and you can almost guarantee that somewhere on the first page of results you’ll find some kind of erotic material. And while it’s perfectly natural to be tempted to click the link, one click can quickly turn into an evening of browsing – and potentially years of addiction. Sorry to burst your bubble, but porn is nothing like real sex and probably won’t do much for your self-esteem, either. In porn, actors who

PIC: Shutterstock


don’t know each other are paid to go through the motions of sex,and fake all of the feelings that are involved. Real intimacy, on the other hand, is one of the best feelings in the world. If you think that you can control your porn use, think again. Watching porn can be just as addictive as smoking, gambling, or doing drugs. The powerful hormones released when watching will make you want to go back for more. Negative side effects of overindulgence in porn include:

■ Raising false expectations about sex and relationships ■ Damage to your relationships if you begin to prefer porn ■ Risk-taking behaviour and unsafe sex ■ An inability to concentrate ■ Erectile dysfunction ■ Difficulty functioning in normal life such as at school or work.

Lewis’s Story “I was shocked when I watched my first video, but then it felt normal. Soon I was accessing online porn multiple times a day, which led to an unhealthy relationship with sex. Working with the NSPCC has helped me to understand what a healthy sexual relationship is, and how porn can mislead you. I have a girlfriend now; we’re not old enough to be in a sexual relationship, but when the time comes, it will be consensual and what both of us want.” Worried about porn addiction? Speak to Childline on 0800 1111 or visit


THE teen health Guide

Sexually transmitted Unprotected sex could land you in a whole heap of misery...

exually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact. Sometimes they lead to obvious symptoms such

PIC: Shutterstock




as rashes, blisters or itching, but you can’t always tell that you’ve caught something. You don’t necessarily have to have intercourse to acquire an STI; sometimes skin rubbing or oral


2 Genital herpes: Painful blisters or sores may cause itching or tingling, or make it painful to urinate. Can be treated but it can’t be cured.

moston o c mm st i s

Pubic lice: Usually found in pubic hair, underarm hair, body hair, beards, eyebrows or eyelashes. Leads to itching but can be treated.

sex is enough. But using a condom will significantly reduce the chances of catching something, which is why it’s always worth using one. Fail to do so and you could pick up any of these:


4 Genital warts: You’ll see small bumps around your genitals or bum. They can be painless or painful. It’s curable.

Chlamydia: Some experience no symptoms, while others have genital pain and discharge. It can be cured.


6 HIV: This weakens the immune system, so it can’t fight infections. It can’t be cured but it can be treated with drugs.


8 Trichomoniasis: Can cause a lot of discomfort such as itching and burning sensations, but it can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Gonorrhoea: A bacterial STD. Many people don’t experience any symptoms, others suffer huge discomfort. Can be cured.

9 Scabies: Tiny mites burrow into the skin, causing intense itching that’s worse at night. Can usually be successfully treated.

Syphilis: You’ll see a sore, then a rash. This can go away and return with a vengeance after several years. It’s curable if caught early.


sex Summary

he sexual decisions you make as a teen can affect your entire future. Whatever you decide, stay safe, use protection, and remember that you can say no. Sexual health screening, investigations and treatments are available from local sexual health services and genitourinary medicine clinics. Testing and treatment is free and done confidentially. Sexual relationships can develop online, too, but you can’t always know who you’re really talking to. To stay safe:

PIC: Shutterstock


■ Is the person you’re taking to being truthful about his or her identity? ■ Don’t send explicit photos or personal info.

Safe sex means making informed choices and protecting yourself… even when online.

■ If you decide to meet up with someone you’ve been chatting to online, take a friend with you and always tell someone you trust where you’re going.

Key points


Never feel pressured, or pressure anyone else, into engaging in sexual activity.


Always use a condom and consider further protection, like the pill.



Be careful online and never send out nude photographs or personal information.

The best sexual health apps All available for free, these apps will help you take control of your sexual health: My Sex Doctor (iOs and Android): Research sexual health with this guide which covers puberty, dating, sex, and more. Sexual Health Guide (iOs and Google Play): Increase your knowledge with this handy glossary. SexPositive (iOs and Google Play): Move the dial to understand the risks and safer sex recommendations of sexual acts.

read more

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the directory 5 ways to Wellbeing Learn the 5 top ways to improve your wellbeing. www.emotionalwellbeing Emotional Health Academy Helping children, young people and families find support for emotional well-being earlier, faster and more easily. Time to Talk Use the Time to Talk service to speak to someone confidentially. 01635 760331 West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Helpline Abuse Service provides support to women and men who are experiencing domestic abuse. West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 731 0055 (Monday – Saturday 10am to 4pm) If you need support outside of these hours call 0808 2000 247 (24 hours). Both numbers are free and will not show on your home telephone bill but may appear on an itemised mobile phone bill. WBCPublicHealth @westberksph

Reading Well/Books on Prescription Find a book and read more about mental health conditions. The Edge The Edge offers a nonjudgmental and confidential service for young people up to the age of 18, who have drug or alcohol concerns. 01635 582002 Smokefreelife Berkshire For help and advice to stop smoking. www.smokefree 0800 622 6360 or text QUIT to 66777 Healthy Eating for Teens Visit NHS Choices for tips and advice for healthy eating. Solutions4health Supporting people with a BMI above 25 to lose weight and learn about healthier weight maintenance by incorporating healthy eating and physical activity. www. solutions4health.

Eat4health Visit Eat 4 Health for further weight management advice and guidance. Run Together West Berkshire Find a free running group near you to improve your fitness. runtogetherwestberks Legacy Leisure Visit a Legacy Leisure site to learn more about their health and fitness classes and activities. Safe Sex Berkshire Safe Sex Berkshire is the home for sexual health information, support and advice in Berkshire. www.safesexberkshire. Contact Advice and Assessment Service For help and advice regarding the welfare of a child, contact child@westberks. or call 01635 503090

Teen Health Guide - West Berkshire edn  
Teen Health Guide - West Berkshire edn