The health landscape you grew up in is far different than the one your kids face today. Technological innovations like cell phones and the internet allow us to be less active. Processed food temptations lurk around every corner.
If you want to raise healthy, active children, you need to give them the right tools and information as they grow. Here are five heart health lessons from which your children will benefit for life.
Heart disease kills
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one American will have a coronary event every 25 seconds. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and the temptation to slip into unfriendly heart habits is always in our faces with advertisements and fast food convenience. The best things in life come with a little work, and that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet. The threat of heart disease might not quite be real to your kids at their young age, but teaching this lesson early on can help prevent serious problems down the road.
Learn great eating habits
Eating right doesn’t have to mean eating bland. Heart-healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and more can be cooked to taste delicious. Learning how to cook these foods at a young age, rather than reaching for a frozen pizza, will help your child form healthy eating habits for the rest of her life.
Diet isn’t about restriction
If you have an overweight child, putting him on a restrictive diet will make him want to cheat. Rather than going for a pre-packaged diet, teach your child about healthy eating habits and how treats like fast food and sweets should only be consumed on occasion. Teach that if an otherwise healthy diet is maintained, a slice of chocolate cake every once in a while won’t be destructive.
Make exercise fun
Going to the gym is serious business, and running on a treadmill for 30 minutes isn’t for everyone. Exercise doesn’t have to be tedious. Children should find an activity that works for them. Group sports and dance classes are a great place to start. This is a lesson they can carry through their lives. When they’re staring a treadmill in the face in the future, they will know there are other alternatives.
Smoking is also a big factor in heart disease. Smoking dwindles energy and lung capacity, which could both be focused on exercise. With everything we know about the adverse health effects of cigarettes, even trying cigarettes once is an unwise decision. The best way to prevent your child from smoking is to not do it yourself.