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Tips for Parents to Encourage Heart Health

April 9, 2010

The American Heart Association warns that if current trends continue, today’s kids could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

heart health for the whole familyThis is because among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. As a parent, I know you want what’s best for your kids. Here are a few tips the AHA offers to help us to do that.

  • Be a good role model - if kids see you trying to eat right and being physically active, you’ll send a message that good health is important.
  • Keep things positive - Kid’s don’t like to hear what they can’t do, tell them what they can do instead.
  • Get the whole family moving - Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
  • Be realistic - Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your health over time, so start small and build up.
  • Limit TV, video game and computer time to 2 hours per day - These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease.
  • Encourage physical activities that they’ll really enjoy - Let your child experiment until they find something that they really love doing. They’ll stick with it longer.
  • Pick truly rewarding rewards - Find other ways to celebrate good behavior besides TV, video games, candy or snacks.
  • Make dinnertime a family time - Get your kids involved in cooking and planning meals.
  • Make a game of reading food labels - The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat.
  • Stay involved - Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol.