Take control of the heart health of your child by now cultivating behaviors that will reap benefits later in life. The most successful way to achieve so is to make safe living a priority for the entire family, according to Colin Kane, M.D a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s HealthSM and Director of Cardiology Outreach at UT Southwestern.
How to raise a heart-healthy child?
Keep going as a family exercise; ride bikes, go for a stroll, go for a swim or play games outdoors.
- Keep heart health
by incorporating games into your family events or by walking to a park for eating a safe meal. Celebrate successes for promoting a healthy sense of self-esteem.
- Limit screen time
Excessive television time leads to a sedentary lifestyle and constant snacking, which increases the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Limit TV, computer and phone time to two hours each day.
- Schedule checkups prior to the sports season
When your child is an athlete, take him to visit the pediatrician for a physical examination to rule out the possibility of sudden cardiac death. Although this is rare in seemingly otherwise stable teenagers, recognizing those at risk needs to be addressed.
- Keep healthy options close at hand
When your child comes home from school, give him healthy snack options like biscuits, whole grains, cheese, bread, chickpeas, vegetables and yogurt with apple slices, nuts and dried fruits.
- Engage in physical activity
Make sure your kids get a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Find out what sports and hobbies your kids want, and encourage the physical activities your kids enjoy. Exercising with your child is also great as it offers benefits for both of you.
- Stop fast food, fried food, candy and soft drinks.
High in fat, cholesterol, and sugar … and lacking nutrition, these foods are some of the key culprits in a diet that harms your core.
- Sleep well
Good night sleep is crucial because it gives children the comfort to focus in school, clarity in choosing healthy foods and energy for daily exercise. Most children need at least 10-11 hours of sleep a night.
A good habit is to sleep and wake up at a similar time every day. Also, setting your child’s room as a quiet, dark place will help him sleep and stay asleep until morning.
- Drink well, too
Water is a great option for maintaining a healthy heart because it does not contain calories or artificial ingredients. Since two-thirds of our bodies are made up of water, it is important for children to drink 8 cups a day to clean and purify their bodies.
- Avoid sugary drinks
Today’s drink options can be overwhelming. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks, have lots of added sugar. These are the sources of extra and unnecessary calories, which quickly translate into unwanted overweight. Avoid these drinks altogether! For most children, water and skim milk are ideal drinks. Of course, children have different nutritional needs throughout childhood, so talk to the pediatrician about age-appropriate milk.