It is important to focus on our children’s hearts daily because according to HealthFinder.gov, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
We know that when you take care of your heart, starting at a young age, you will increase the likelihood that you will live a longer life. Let’s start to invest in our children’s hearts, and our own, this month so that they will be saying thanks for years to come by doing these three things:
1. Serve a Heart-Healthy Diet
Food is important for our bodies. It is the fuel that keeps us going. But sometimes it is hard to encourage children to eat foods that are especially important for their hearts. Fruits and vegetables are great for young hearts and provide a good source of vitamins that are needed. Saturated and trans fats are not so good for our hearts, but you shouldn’t try to limit the amount of fats a child does eat before the age of two. Some fats are actually necessary for our bodies because they create insulation to keep us warm, vitamin and mineral absorption and to protect our organs (like the heart)! Learn more about these fats from Childhood Obesity Prevention Coordinator Kerry McKenzie. Additionally, you should limit your intake of red meats. Instead, try to eat more fish, poultry or meat-free alternatives to get your proteins.
2. Avoid Secondhand Smoke
The research is clear that secondhand smoke causes problems for our hearts and lungs. If your children can smell it, then they are breathing in those toxic hazards. Keep your children away from anyone who is smoking or locations that allow smoking inside. Teach young children the dangers of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, and how even just one cigarette can do harm to their bodies.
3. Get Their Hearts Pumping Everyday
At least 60 minutes of physical activity is important for everyone, from toddler to adult. That doesn’t mean it has to be “exercise”, like running on a treadmill or lifting weights. Health benefits happen just by having short bursts of activity that accumulate to 30 or 60 minutes each day. Plus, physical activity can be fun and done as a family.
Check out Choosy Kid’s song My Heart Says Thanks (click on the CD link to hear a sample) and dance along to the beats and words. There are also other Choosy Kids songs that get the heart pumping like the Choosy Cha Cha and I Move Myself from the Choosy Nation CD, just to name a few!
You can also go for a bike ride, play at the playground or act out your favorite book or movie. Just keep moving! Sitting for long periods of time increases the risk for obesity and cardiovascular (heart) disease, so get up and move a little bit each hour of the day.
Their Heart Says Thanks
From ensuring we love and support our children, to making sure they eat the right food and get enough exercise, these are all simple things you can do to help young hearts. Spread the word that February is American Heart Month and get your extended family, friends, teachers and other parents involved in heart healthy activities. No matter the season, there are always ideas for ways to get up and get moving on Choosy Kid’s cold weather and warm weather blog posts.
What are your favorite family-friendly, heart healthy meals? How do you get your family up and moving each day?