March 11, 2015

Tips for healthy aging: Your teens and 20s



Part one of our seven-part series

Aging begins at birth. Even so, the way we age changes with each successive decade of life. What health goals should you have when you are in your teens and twenties? The following tips can help you adopt habits that will maximize your health now while preparing you for a better future.

Build bone density

Building bone is especially important for women, who typically lose bone density after levels of estrogen decline following menopause. But most bone density accumulates during your early years, so now is the best time to take these preventive actions.

  • Eat a healthy diet with an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D. 
  • Do weight-bearing exercise.

Protect your head, muscles, bones, and joints

Head injuries in youth can increase your risk of developing dementia later in life.  And injuries to other body parts can result in a host of chronic health problems later on. Remember to:

  • Wear appropriate protective gear when you play sports, including helmets and proper shoes.
  • Do five to ten minutes of warm-up exercises before sports or strenuous exercises.
  • Do gentle stretches during and after exercise to increase flexibility.

Protect your hearing

Hearing loss can be cumulative, caused by exposure to loud noise over time. Avoid exposure by:

  • Wearing ear protection at loud concerts or around loud machinery.
  • Keep your stereo at a reasonable volume.
  • Don’t wait until you experience symptoms of hearing loss; by then it may be too late to prevent permanent damage.

Protect yourself from skin cancer

Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever you spend time outdoors. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps that emit ultraviolet radiation and can cause skin damage, increasing the risk of skin cancer.

Start saving money

Many studies have linked poverty to poor health in later years. Building a solid nest egg may allow you to live a healthier lifestyle as you age.

Practice safe sex

Avoiding multiple partners and consistently using condoms can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including the human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases the risk of genital warts and cervical cancer.

Get the HPV vaccine

Vaccines to prevent HPV are typically recommended for adolescents age 11 or 12, to be sure they are protected from the virus. Talk with your health care provider for more information.

Get cancer and STD screening

Kaiser Permanente Washington recommends a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer for many individuals with a uterus who are between ages 21 and 65. Talk to your doctor about the schedule that’s right for you. Kaiser Permanente Washington also recommends regular screening for chlamydia, the most common STD, for those who are sexually active. 

Check your blood pressure

Healthy people this age should begin having their blood pressure checked at every visit.

Check out more health tips for your thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond on our Healthy Findings blog.

Live Healthy


Healthy aging: Never too early—or too late

Advice based on your current decade of life.