Heart health is just as important for kids as it is to adults. In fact, the Texas Heart Institute reports that risk factors for heart disease starts in childhood, only worsening when problematic habits aren’t changed.
While heart disease isn’t necessarily prevalent among children, major risk factors are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the obesity rate has more than tripled since the 1970’s. In addition, kids with high cholesterol and hypertension are also at risk.
So, as parents and caretakers, we need to take extra precaution. Here just a few tips on how to do that.
Easy Tips to Promote Healthy Hearts
Children are vibrant and full of energy–let’s help them channel that energy. The Academy of Pediatrics suggests physical activity can help lower the risk of obesity in your child.
No, that does not mean throwing them on a treadmill and setting the timer for 30 minutes while you take a nap. Make it a family initiative to get up and going. Here are some fun ways to encourage activity:
- Take a scenic bike ride around the park. Always ensure you wear protective gear!
- Sign your child up for swimming lessons or sports leagues in your community. Some options might even allow you to participate alongside them.
- Encourage playtime with the pets. Taking care of our four-legged friends and little critters often involves a lot of movement. Whether it’s walking the dog or cleaning the rabbit’s den, include your child. That can also help foster responsibility.
- Emphasize the importance of activity every day–even if its just a 10 to 15 minute walk every day.
For tips and ideas on how you can exercise with your child, read this. It’s important to not put too much strain on your kiddos, and our quick guide can help give you ideas on how to do that. When they find something they love, stick with it instead of forcing them to do things they don’t like.
Teach your kids to be mindful in the kitchen.
Children love to experiment and sometimes that curiosity lures them to the kitchen while you’re preparing a meal. Use that curiosity to help them learn healthy habits. This includes:
- Eating more greens and fruits
- Limiting sugar, salt and unhealthy fats
- Finding healthy alternatives for treats or junk food
- Varying the diet with nuts, fiber and grains (maybe even a more flexitarian diet)
- Keeping proper proportions and portion sizes
One important factor you’ll want to help your child realize is that food is not the enemy. It’s okay to have the occasional treat now and then, but gorging on Hostess cupcakes every day could lead to major hearts issues (among others) down the road.
Schedule regular check-ups and foster awareness.
For those with a family history of heart disease or related illness, it’s important to stay prepared. You don’t necessarily need to explain every detail to your child but you can explain how your family is special, which requires a little extra precaution sometimes.
You’ll also want to encourage regular check-ups for blood sugar, cholesterol and other factors. Children often loathe the doctor’s office, so try your best to make it comfortable for them. Using rewards might prove to be effective in the short-term, but long-term, that could cause issue. Use your best judgement.
One idea might include making a fun trip out of your doctor’s visit. This could mean taking a “field trip” to the office’s cafeteria or local food joint afterwards. Think of it as a little family tradition.
Lead by example.
The best way to encourage a healthy little heart is to lead by example. No matter what age you are, you can make a difference. Make heart-healthy choices every day. Your children will see that the choices are easy, and probably not as bad as they think.
For smokers, we’re sorry, but this might be a tough pill to swallow. Smoking is major heart disease risk factor. Quitting could help your family know how important it is to keep health a top priority.
Living Healthy with Purium
We like to keep things happy + happy, so introducing your child to our products is fine in our book. Kids and (concerned parents) love our multi-vitamin, protein-fueled Kids MVP – Chocolate flavor. This isn’t just a healthy chocolate milk alternative, you can also get creative with it for healthy muffins, pancakes, or chocolate topping for strawberries and yogurt!