Many of the conditions and behaviors that put people at risk for heart disease are appearing at younger ages. Choosing to be sedentary during downtime and eating unhealthy fast food are common pitfalls.
Children who are overweight or have a family history of heart disease or of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 1 or type 2 diabetes run the highest risk of having heart issues.1 Genetic predisposition aside, anyone can develop heart disease, so as parents, it’s our responsibility to role model an Active Wellness lifestyle. Telling a child or teenager to eat vegetables and exercise regularly is ineffective if we personally don’t follow through with those behaviors.
By starting heart-healthy habits from childhood, kids can reduce the chance they will ever need to worry about cardiovascular disease. In terms of exercise, the American Heart Association recommends that children:
- Three to five years old should be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.2
- Six to 17 years old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic.3
- Include vigorous-intensity activity on at least three days per week.4
- Include muscle- and bone-strengthening (weight-bearing) activities on at least three days per week.5
Here are 10 tips for helping children develop heart-healthy habits:
- Personally exercise more and find ways to be active as a family. Only one out of five adults meets the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity..6
- Physical activity should be fun for children and adolescents. Encourage kids to try new activities in order to discover the ones they like and will pursue into adulthood. You may have a budding gymnast or yogini in the family!
- In general, reduce time in front of the TV. Look into video games that incorporate movement, such as dance, indoor cycling or virtual sports (golf, tennis, etc.).
- Give your kids active toys and games. Try bikes, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, jump ropes, balls and trampolines.
- Take advantage of community facilities near you: pools, recreation centers, bike paths and parks.
- Prepare simple meals together. Even children can help wash, chop and peel vegetables to assemble a salad. And because they helped make it, they’re more likely to eat it.
- Experiment with spices to help cut down on salt. High sodium diets are often the cause of high blood pressure. Since we are creatures of habit, children who eat natural foods cooked with very little salt have fewer salt cravings as they grow up. Don’t assume children won’t eat beneficial flavor enhancers such as garlic, onions, mustard and vinegar.
- Serve fruit for dessert. There’s plenty of natural sugar in fruit. Many Asian and Mediterranean diets rely on fruit for dessert. Children who grow up without eating sugary desserts tend to have this good habit carry over into adulthood.
- Never smoke in front of your children. More than 37 million U.S. adults are current smokers, and thousands of young people start smoking each day. If you are a smoker, quitting will send a big message to your children never to start. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.7
- Do not serve sodas. Kenzen Super Ciaga® is a superior soda replacement when added to seltzer or PiMag® water.
Even if you didn’t inherit heart-healthy habits, start now. Nikken has nutritional supplements that may help you with Active Wellness for the rest of your life. Kenzen® Omega Green + DHA (link to shopping cart) helps provide vegan omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids while Kenzen® Bergisterol helps support cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels within the normal range.•
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.