A Heart Healthy Lifestyle for Children’s Hearts

You may think that children are so young that they are free of all the health problems experienced by older adults. But that’s not the case at all. With obesity and high cholesterol levels becoming more common in individuals, especially in the United States, children as young as 2 years of age may be at risk of developing a variety of diseases, including heart disease.

It is therefore not surprising that children are no longer as healthy as they used to be. With their preference for high-cholesterol, nutrient-poor foods and their growing dependence on social media and time-consuming video games, there is no longer an opportunity for children to get the right amount of healthy foods and exercise. As parents, it is their responsibility not only to educate and teach them to distinguish right from wrong, but also to instill healthy habits that they will maintain as they grow up.

Here are some tips to help children get on the road to heart and general health:

Reduce screen time

The time spent in front of the screen is spent in front of the computer or television. Nowadays, it has become commonplace for young people to spend countless hours surfing the Internet or playing video games. This is the fault of technology, but children lack the time to interact with their real environment. This sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain that leads to hypertension, obesity and heart problems. Limit screen time to two hours a day, unless it’s school-related, and ask your children to help you at home instead. Explain the importance of physical activity in their daily routine.

Work with more exercise

Encourage your children to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Find activities that your children enjoy and get them more involved. If your child likes sports, let him or her try out for the soccer or baseball team. If you see your child as a potential dancer, let him or her try ballet or jazz. You can also ask your child to join you in your exercise program. An evening jog in the neighborhood, a weekend hike on a trail, or long afternoons at a nearby pool not only helps prevent diabetes and weight gain, but also strengthens the bond with your family while preventing heart disease.

Eat healthy foods

A healthy lifestyle is largely based on a healthy diet. Create nutritious meals to protect your child’s heart from disease. Try to include foods from each food group and explain the importance of each one for his or her health. At restaurants, help them choose healthier options and limit or avoid foods that are fried or high in saturated and trans fats. Replace sweet, high cholesterol snacks with fruit or other healthy alternatives. If your children still crave pizza, hamburgers and other similar foods, let them eat what they want once a week. Think of it as a reward for following a healthy, nutritious lifestyle.