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Get Your Family Moving for Heart Health

April 23, 2010

You’ve probably heard, but let me reiterate, that “increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease as well as related risk factors such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.” So says the American Heart Association, and I tend to believe them.

Family Heart HealthPhysical activity has physical, psychological and social benefits. Studies show physical activity and improved academic (or work) performance go hand in hand. Help your kids be physically active for 60 minutes every day—and you can benefit as well. Try these:

  • Limit screen time (television, movies, videos and computer games) to less than 2 hours a day.
  • Plan family outings and vacations that involve vigorous activities such as hiking, bicycling, skiing, swimming, etc.
  • Give your children some household chores that require physical exertion, keeping in mind their levels of strength, coordination and maturity. Mowing lawns, raking leaves, scrubbing floors and taking out the garbage not only teach responsibility but can be good exercise.
  • Observe sports and activities your children like, then find out about lessons and clubs. Some children thrive on team sports; others prefer individual activities.
  • If it's safe to walk or bike rather than drive, do so. Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators. Increase the distances you and your children walk.
  • Be active with your kids. Exercise for hear health. Experts say that what kids want more than anything else is time with their parents. To give them that, don’t just send them out to play — go play with them!
  • Take advantage of your city's recreation opportunities -- from soccer leagues to fun runs.
  • Check out the various camps or organizations like the Sierra Club that sponsor outdoor activities such as camping, hiking trips and bird watching.
  • When your children are bored, suggest something that gets them moving, like playing catch or building a snowman in the yard.