Personal choice concerning fitness and health involves multiple factors. Personal goals, peer and social pressures, ethnic and religious beliefs, and understanding of biological consequences, can all influence decisions about health practices.

An individual's mood and behavior may be modified by substances. Students should understand that drug use can result in physical dependence and can increase the risk of injury, accidents, and death.

Selection of foods and eating patterns determine nutritional balance. Nutritional balance has a direct effect on growth and development and personal well-being. Personal and social factors—such as habits, family income, ethnic heritage, body size, advertising, and peer pressure—influence nutritional choices.

Family systems serve basic health needs, especially for young children. Regardless of the family structure, individuals have a variety of physical, mental, and social relationships that influence the maintenance and improvement of health.

Sexuality is basic to the physical, mental, and social development of humans. Students should understand that human sexuality involves biological functions, psychological motives, and cultural, ethnic, religious, and technological influences. Sex is a basic and powerful force that has consequences to individuals' health and to society. Students should understand various methods of controlling the reproduction process and that each method has a different type of effectiveness and different health and social consequences.

  • Science for All Americans (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1989):

    To stay in good operating condition, the human body requires a variety of foods and experiences.

    Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy heart/lung system, muscle tone, and for keeping bones from becoming brittle.

    Good health depends on the avoidance of excessive exposure to substances that interfere with the body's operation. Chief among those that each individual can control are tobacco, addictive drugs, and excessive amounts of alcohol.

    Biological abnormalities, such as brain injuries or chemical imbalances, can cause or increase susceptibility to psychological disturbances. Conversely, intense emotional states have some distinct biochemical effects.

    Ideas about what constitutes good mental health and proper treatment for abnormal mental states vary from one culture to another and from one time period to another.

    Individuals differ greatly in their ability to cope with stressful environments. Stresses are especially difficult for children to deal with and may have long-lasting effects.

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