World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29 September with the aim of drawing attention to the issue of cardiac health. With 17.3 million deaths per year related to cardiac health problems, we need to start taking care of our heart.
The roots of adult cardiovascular disease often stem from bad diets or inactivity throughout childhood. To protect your family’s health, follow these tips to keep their tickers in tip-top shape.
Heart health check
Forearmed is forewarned so the saying goes, it’s never too early to get the facts about your children’s overall health. This knowledge can help you in deciding how best to manage their health, the earlier you catch high blood pressure or other issues that may cause later heart problems, the better. A healthcare professional will be able to test your child’s cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels, weight and BMI. This is particularly important if there is a history of cardiac problems within your family.
Moderate exercise: no marathon required
It is pretty difficult getting kids to exercise but don’t worry, they don’t need to run a daily marathon to keep their hearts healthy. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity can help safeguard their future cardiac health. Moderate activity could be walking to school, riding a bike even doing chores (that’s two birds with one stone). Better still why not find an activity that will benefit the whole family’s health and allows you to spend some quality time together? Activities to consider might be kicking a football around in the garden, flying a kite or going roller skating – the options are endless.
Kids won’t eat healthily? Trick them
It is the eternal struggle between parent and child to make them eat healthily and rightly so. The habits formed in childhood have long term consequences: if people start eating healthily when young, they will continue this pattern into adulthood. You don’t have to overload every meal with cabbage and broccoli though; there are easier ways to convince fussy kids to eat well. Swapping soft drinks for natural juices, or replacing a dessert with fruit are two easy ways to up the fruit intake and appeal to their sweet tooth. Another tactic is literally smuggling vegetables into their meals in the form of pureed vegetables in sauces or replacing mashed potato with mashed butternut squash or sweet potato for example.
Smoking: just quit
Smoking causes fatty build up in the arteries which can lead to heart attacks or stroke. It is important to educate children about the dangers of smoking, not just because of the risks to their hearts but because of the other myriad health problems for which smoking is responsible.
If you are a smoker, you ought to be aware of the risk of lingering second-hand smoke. The best thing to do is to try and avoid smoking near your children. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, so unfortunately the ‘do as I say not as I do’ line in regards to smoking won’t wash with them. The best way to protect you and your family’s cardiac health is to try and quit smoking yourself which will cut down on their exposure to smoke-filled environments.
How aware are you of your family’s cardiac health? Will World Heart Day, encourage you to make the important changes to help your children’s hearts grow healthy and strong?