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<July 2015>

Current Location: Skip Navigation LinksHome | Get Set for Life | Living Skills & Resources | Living Healthy

Living Healthy!

(Information obtained from Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA), Handbook for Skill Development, Massachusetts Department of Social Services – click here to visit website)

You are in control of your personal health. While exercise, proper nutrition and regular doctor's check-ups can help you to maintain good health and may prevent health problems, certain risky behaviors and bad habits can negatively impact your health.

Taking care of your personal health and obtaining the necessary health information and/or services is an important life-long task. You should also know your own health history (any illnesses, immunizations, allergies, etc.). Keeping yourself healthy involves not only getting proper medical treatment when you're sick, but also preventing health problems as well.

It is important to keep track of all your medical records. Be sure to put them in a safe and easily accessible place -- maybe your document portfolio. Not even doctors are able to read your mind. They need information to treat you properly. In a medical emergency or during a regularly scheduled doctor's visit, the more information you can provide to the medical care staff, the better they will be able to care for you.

Making the right decisions about how to respond to illnesses and health problems is very important. Sometimes symptoms of illnesses might be mistakenly identified as harmless when they actually may indicate serious health problems. Therefore, it is important to always seek medical help if you have any questions. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Immunolgy checklist

For example, various cancers can have the following seven warning signals:

  1. Change in bowel or bladder habits.
  2. A sore that does not heal.
  3. Unusual bleeding or discharge.
  4. Thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere.
  5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
  6. Obvious change in a wart or mole.
  7. Nagging cough or hoarseness.

If you have a warning signal or any medical concerns, see your doctor.


Exercising regularly is an important part of keeping physically fit and can prevent certain health risks.

Young woman doing yoga
  • Exercising on a regular basis makes you feel more energetic and you will be more fit
  • Exercising slows down the aging process; exercising helps strengthen your body - your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It helps you improve your cardiovascular system so that your body works more efficiently while it strengthens your heart.
  • Exercising regularly can give you more self confidence. Setting a goal for exercising three or four times per week and achieving that goal will give you a real sense of accomplishment as well as renewed confidence in yourself and your abilities. Your exercise schedule doesn't have to be like that of an Olympic star; it just needs to be a realistic and attainable goal that you can set for yourself and stick to.
  • Exercising is a very important part of a good weight loss program. Exercise will not only help you burn calories, but it will keep your body in great shape as well.
  • Even walking for twenty minutes twice a day will improve your physical fitness.

Exercise is not only healthy, but it can also be a lot of fun! Many communities offer a variety of free or low cost sports activities you can participate in. In addition, the YMCA offers access to their facilities and classes for a low fee. Don't forget to visit you area parks frequently.


Good nutrition and a balanced diet are also important to keep us healthy. To make sure that you get all the nutrients your body needs, it is important to eat a variety of foods. Take the how nutrition savvy are you quiz to see how much you know about nutrition. Other resources that you can explore follow:

Maricopa County Nutrition Services - is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all ages and aims to provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based information. From services to resources, we continue to support the common goal of improving human health by way of nutrition.

Women, Infants & Children (WIC) - WIC is a nutrition program that helps pregnant women, new mothers, and young children eat well, learn about nutrition and stay healthy. WIC stands for The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco

Warning: A major obstruction to good decision making is the use of alcohol or drugs. Under the influence of any substance, you cannot think clearly and are much more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors or make unwise decisions which you will regret later.

Some risky behaviors and bad habits that you should be aware of are smoking, drugs, alcohol and having sex without the proper protection.

Broken cigarette

Tobacco use is the nation's number one cause of preventable death. In Arizona, the four leading causes of death are cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary disease. Tobacco use can be a cause in all of these. The American Lung Association says 90% of teens who start using tobacco will become nicotine addicts. The best way to deal with smoking is, of course, not starting. Quitting smoking takes a lot of commitment and you have got to believe that you can do it.

For more information on smoking, visit Kids Health.

Did you know that smoking harms every organ in your body? Tobacco Free Arizona

Some youth might be goaded into experimenting with drugs by their friends or peers. PEER PRESSURE IS NOT A REASON TO BEGIN USING DRUGS!!! Another reason some people start to take drugs is to check out what it is like - curiosity. Some people start to drink and to take drugs so that they don't have to think about painful things. Problems will not go away by drowning them in alcohol or other drugs. You will still have them when you sober up. Some people start to take drugs to be a part of the crowd or to boost their self-esteem. None of these are good reasons for participating in such risky behavior. Take the quiz and see how much you know about drugs.

Drug Free written on fingers


  • There are risks involved even in trying drugs. Even a first time experience could end with a car accident, violent behavior, damage to your health, etc.
  • You can become addicted to drugs a lot quicker than you might think! Certain drugs are thought to be habit-forming from the first usage.
  • Be extra alert when drinking anything, even soda, with people you don't know very well, and watch for strange effects such as dizziness and confusion after a drink. And never, ever, ever, leave your glass unattended!!

Alcohol is also considered to be a drug. Remember that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. If you or someone you know has a drug problem, there are a number of treatments to choose from. Some outpatient programs are free, some group therapy sessions are offered on a daily basis. Visit Alateen/Alanon (friends and family of problem drinkers), Alcoholics Anonymous, etc. to obtain additional information.

Sexual Behavior

Making the right decisions about sex is more important than ever. Making the right decisions and choices may prevent you from getting hurt, engaging in unhealthy or destructive relationships, an unwanted pregnancy, and potentially deadly sexually transmitted diseases (STD's).

Safe Sex written on chalkboard

At any point in your life, your choice of whether or not to have sex should be a conscious and informed decision. Review some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual relations. It is important that you evaluate whether or not you are ready and are aware of possible consequences. The only sure way to avoid the risks of pregnancy and STD's is through abstinence.

You can say no at any time! Nobody should be pressured into any kind of sexual relationship.

For more information, visit these sites: