4 tips for children’s heart health

Nowadays, children prefer to play video games, spend countless hours in front of the computer and play with their smartphone rather than playing outside and getting a little sun and sweat to make their hearts beat. This unhealthy behaviour is also reflected in their eating habits, preferring fast food, pizza deliveries, meals prepared in the microwave and excessive consumption of junk food and other unhealthy meals. Not surprisingly, obesity and high blood pressure are increasingly common among adolescents and even young children, putting them at high risk for heart disease as they age.

That’s why it’s important for children, even at an early age, to have an active and healthy lifestyle. Incorporating these activities into their daily routine will teach them the importance of nutrition and exercise so that they can develop and continue to make heart-healthy choices later in life. It is the responsibility of parents and even teachers to guide young people and instill good health habits.

The habits that are good for children are not much different from those that should be practiced by adults. In fact, a great way for children to develop healthy habits is to lead by example, which means that parents need to be role models for healthy living. When the whole family is involved, children will find it easier and more fun to make the active and nutritious transition.

Here are four tips to help your children get on the road to heart health:

  1. 1. say no to sodas, sweets, fried foods and fast food. These foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and sugar, but low in fibre, are the safest way to fight obesity and high blood pressure, which lead to heart disease. Allowing your children to eat them occasionally is not a problem as long as you don’t store them regularly in your refrigerator. Instead, have healthier and tastier alternatives on hand.
  2. Eat a balanced diet with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts. A heart-healthy diet is low in cholesterol, sugar, sodium and fat, but high in dietary fibre and all necessary vitamins and minerals. Low-fat dairy products are excellent as a good source of calcium.
  3. Limit video games, television and computer use outside of school to only 2 hours a day. Although children need some free time after school, this sedentary routine is not good for their heart health. Instead, offer alternatives, such as enrolling them in karate classes or encouraging them to try out for the swim team.
  4. Make sure your children are physically active every day. Discover your children’s interests and talents and encourage them to continue whatever activities they are doing. If your children don’t play sports, find another activity that allows them to get a daily dose of exercise. You can invite them to join you in your daily jog around the neighbourhood, ask them to help you with some household chores or even have them play in the yard with your canine family member.