Published on February 16, 2022

Mother Daughter Heart Hands

Raising Kids with Heart-Healthy Habits

Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, unlike many other diseases, we can control our risk factors and dramatically lower them by adopting healthy lifestyle changes.

Adopting heart-healthy habits at a young age is an important tool to minimize your risk and prevent heart disease later in life. Lindsey Prescher, DO, a cardiac surgeon with Adventist Medical Group Cardiovascular Surgery, shares a few tips she uses at home to teach heart-healthy habits to her children.

Healthy Eating

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can reduce risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Do you have picky eaters? Heart-healthy eating doesn’t have to be a fight! Try following these tips to help teach your child to eat heart-healthy:

  • Give them options – Try including them in meal planning! Let them know what their options are and ask them which vegetable or fruit they would like to eat before you start making a meal. This can also include grocery shopping together and finding some kid friendly cookbooks for new ideas and recipes to try.
  • Lead by example – Young children watch our every move, so it’s important for them to see their parents or loved ones eating and enjoying healthy foods. Show them that moderation is the key to success.
  • Regular family meals – It’s important to take time to sit down regularly and have meals together as a family. Be creative, breakfast for dinner is a favorite in my house and is an easy way to get everyone to the table.

Make time to exercise together as a family

Movement and exercise are beneficial for everyone, however, the amount of time your child will need will vary depending on their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preschool-aged children should have the opportunity to move and be active throughout the day, while school aged children should aim to be active for 60 minutes each day of moderate- to vigorous physical activity, mostly aerobic.

“Getting exercise with your family doesn’t have to be a task to dread,” Dr. Prescher explains. “Find something that everyone enjoys, such as a walk to the park or a make a game to see who can do the most jumping jacks.” There are so many games that are now geared towards activity, dance battles and charades are a few of our favorites. You can also try encouraging your children to participate in sports such as soccer, tennis or swimming.

By teaching our children heart-healthy habits at a young age we can help set the next generation up for a healthier future, plus it’s never too late for the rest of us to get in on living a healthier lifestyle too. Living a healthy life is not just about longevity it is truly about quality as well.

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