If parents start to teach kids and teens about the importance of heart health from a young age these lessons become part of their day-to-day living.
Studies published by the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation found that kids who ate fruits and most specifically vegetables had healthier arteries in adulthood. So how do you instil these good habits? Leading by example and serving them heart healthy foods is the easiest way. Make sure you include fruits and veggies into your daily life—carrot sticks as a snack, a side of veggies with meals and orange wedges with breakfast.
You also want your kids understand what the heart does and why we need to feed it with healthy food. If children are able to connect cause and effect they will be more likely to make the right decisions—by eating well and staying active.
You can talk about blood cholesterol and explain what it does by using two straws with different diameters (a small one and a bigger one) to suck up water. Tell your kids that certain less healthy foods make it harder for blood to flow back and forth from the heart.
Make the learning fun. For younger kids print a picture of the heart from the Internet. Colour the different parts together. Explain that the heart is a muscle and how it works. Let them find their pulse. You want them to grasp that arteries need to be clear for the heart to pump efficiently.
Get older kids and teens interested in logging their heart rate. Chart and track their heart at rest and when active. Explain how exercising your heart will strengthen it. They will learn (and get motivated) by seeing the results.
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