Your Family’s Different Health Needs
Everyone has different health needs depending on their age and gender. Understanding your family health needs is important at every stage of life.
With children, so much of their future health depends on the habits that are instilled in them now. It’s important to teach kids how to make healthy decisions around food and physical activity. Include a variety of foods in their diet from a young age, limiting sugary juices and treats. Trust young children when they say they’re not hungry—good eating isn’t about clearing your plate, but knowing when you’re full.
Daily exercise is also key: Limit kids’ computer time and encourage running, hiking, biking, swimming, and playing games outdoors. Set an example by making healthy food and exercise decisions of your own, and try to exercise together, which will help your family health.
In addition to establishing healthy habits, visit your pediatrician regularly and stay up-to-date on all your kids’ vaccines, including hepatitis B, rotavirus, chickenpox, pneumonia, influenza, measles, and more.
Parents often lament teenagers who won’t get out of bed, but teens need much more sleep than adults do—about 8-10 hours a night. They should also be physically active 60 minutes a day, which can help an otherwise night-owl teen fall asleep earlier.
About 20 percent of teens are obese, thanks to fast food and popular drinks and snacks loaded with sugar and sodium. But by starting the day off with a healthy, filling breakfast, they’ll have the energy they need to make it through the school day and make better food choices throughout the day. Teens should get plenty of calcium, vitamin D, fiber, iron, protein, and potassium to help them grow strong and healthy.
As men age in their 20s, 30s, and beyond, it’s essential to know their family history and genetics and discuss them with their doctor. Heart-healthy eating and exercise are key, as is varying the types of exercise performed. Mix it up between cardio, muscle training, and low-intensity exercise like walking. Stretching is also important to avoid injuries.
Be sure to also eat a good mix of whole grains, berries, bananas, fish, and other foods with zinc, potassium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the cardiovascular system.
To help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, women should get a mix of cardio and resistance exercise at least three times a week. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is also crucial to avoid burnout and stress.
Visiting your OB/GYN for regular Pap and HPV tests is also important. Fertility can start to decline as early as 32, so talk to your doctor so you know your options if you plan on having children. Aside from preventing unwanted pregnancies, birth control can also lower the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer and help regulate your cycle. Conduct regular breast exams and discuss any family history of breast or ovarian cancer with your doctor.
As men get older, their prostate usually grows, which can cause urinary problems. A low-fat diet can reduce symptoms of prostate growth and your risk of prostate cancer. Overall, men need fewer calories per day as you age, but they do need more vitamin D and calcium to protect your bones. Men should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked during annual doctor visits, and get your influenza, shingles, tetanus, and pneumonia vaccines.
Like male seniors, female seniors should get their regular vaccines and plenty of bone-protecting nutrients. Older women are more likely than men to develop chronic health issues like arthritis or high blood pressure, but managing your weight and maintaining regular exercise can help. Make regular appointments with your doctor—they might recommend screenings for certain conditions or suggest vitamins and supplements. And don’t forget those gynecological exams—they’re still important after your child-bearing years.