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Many teenagers like to live in the moment, focusing solely on the here and now. Sometimes, they don’t fully understand that some of the actions they take today can have repercussions that extend far into the future. This is especially significant when you consider that many habits – both good and bad – can become permanent, and the effects of even seemingly simple acts can become powerful over time. For instance, certain behaviors that are practiced and established during the teen years, such as smoking, can lead to the development of serious health conditions like heart disease and cancer later in life.

It’s never too early to begin practicing good health habits. Here are some general tips you can give your teen to help him or her achieve and maintain good health both now and well into the future:

  • Try to be physically active in some way every single day
  • Avoid junk foods and eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet
  • Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Maintain a healthy body weight (weight loss becomes more difficult with age)
  • Get enough sleep (eight to nine hours each night)
  • Don’t use tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Wear a protective helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboard or motorcycle
  • Wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a motor vehicle
  • Don’t text and drive
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Never drink and drive, or get into a car with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs
  • Don’t swim alone
  • Apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors
  • Don’t use indoor tanning devices
  • Practice safe sex by either abstaining or using condoms to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • See a physician regularly for checkups, as well as appropriate immunizations and screening tests
  • Talk with a parent, doctor, teacher or other trusted adult about feelings of overwhelming sadness or any thoughts of self-harm

It can take some time for positive actions like these to become second nature. But, if a teen learns early on how to create good habits, this knowledge will serve him or her well for the rest of his or her life.

If you have questions about appropriate cancer screening tests for your teen, you are welcome to contact Moffitt Cancer Center with or without a referral. You can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form.