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Raising a Heart Healthy Child

Updated on June 8, 2011


The reason for an article on raising a heart healthy child is to increase awareness of heart disease that can occur in children. When someone says heart disease, you most likely will envision an adult that may not have made the best health choice over the years.

However,adults are not the only ones at risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases; increasingly kids are at risk as well. The American Heart Association (AHA) is working to get the word out to kids and families that it is important to live a heart-healthy life. I’m sure that you would agree that every parent wants only the best for their children, however many have not been able to avoid the fate of congenital cardiovascular defector other types of diseases and or conditions.


According to the AHA website, “Nine of every 1,000 infants born each year have a heart defect. About 650,000 to 1.3 million Americans with cardiovascular defects are alive today. Though research is ongoing, at least 35 defects have now been identified.”

Of course, early detection of such heart defects is of the utmost importance. I have a personal testimony because one of my nieces was born with congenital heart disease. I have asked my sister to allow me to interview her and that will be included in another hub at a later date. For now let’s look at how a healthy heart should function.

Be sure to follow this You Tube link to see the alarming discovery that doctors in Houston, TX recently discovered with some sixth grade students. Children Could Have Undetected Heart Problems aired on the ABC’s World News about a week ago. This did not surprise me because my family has had firsthand experiences with undetected heart disease. However, what has been alarming was the small percentage of people that have viewed any of the videos that are available to discuss children’s heart disease. I sincerely hope that more awareness will be generated toward this problem.

How to Help Your Kids

Again the best way to help one’s kids is by becoming more aware of how to live heart-healthy lives through:

  • Early detection of the disease, condition, and the treatment that may be required for your child
  • Knowing the top ten ways of getting kids to practice good health
  • Being aware of how to make fast food friendlier
  • Learning how to limit tube time and get your kids moving
  • Including the ten do’s for dealing with a picky eater
  • Figuring out how to get non-athletes to be physically active
  • Taking control of portion sizes
  • Be aware of your child's blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels; each can provide early warning signs when something maybe wrong with your children.

Tips for Raising Heart-Healthy, Active Children from AHA

  • Encourage children to develop good physical activity habits at an early age. Practice heart-healthy habits by setting a good example yourself.
  • Limit the sedentary activities like phone texting, television, movies, computer games, and videos to less than two hours a day then replace the rest of leisure time with physical activity and exercise.
  • Family outings and vacations should involve vigorous activities such as running and playing, bicycling, skiing, swimming, hiking, building castles on the beach, etc.
  • Children should be given household chores that require physical exertion that matches their strength levels, coordination and maturity. Pushing a small lawn mower, raking leaves, scrubbing floors and or taking out the garbage are good exercise and it teaches responsibility.
  • Find sports and outdoor activities your child likes, then find out about lessons and or clubs where he might be able to participate. Some kids flourish in team sports; while others may prefer individual activities like tennis or swimming, which can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
  • Utilize locations that are safe to walk or bike rather than drive. Gradually increase the distances that you walk, and always take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
  • Monitor and be proactive with your child's physical education classes at school. At daycare, kids should be exercising at least 20 minutes a day. Become familiar with the frequency of classes and activity, class size,curriculum (training in lifetime fitness activities and team sports should be highlighted),physical fitness assessments should be performed; check qualifications of the teacher for appropriate certification in physical education and make sure they are an appropriate role model for students. Encourage your school board to emphasize skills students can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids should be active after school and before dinner. Delay homework immediately after school to let children find some diversion from the structure of the school day.
  • Give fitness-oriented gifts for birthdays and Christmas – a Wii or X-box with only fitness DVDs, a jump rope, tennis racket, baseball or bat, mini-trampoline, or a youth membership at the local YMCA or YWCA are always great ideas.
  • Be sure to participate and take advantage of your city's recreation opportunities– Anything from soccer leagues to fun runs, to an afternoon cool splash in a fountain. Check out camps or organizations like the Sierra Club, Girl and or Boy Scouts that sponsor outdoor activities such as camping and hiking trips,and bird watching.
  • Occasionally, unleash your fast moving diapered dynamo whenever and wherever he or she can safely move around. Free your infant from mechanical restraints as strollers, highchairs, and playpen to increase their activity potential.At this age, they are excited about running around and exploring everything.
  • If your kids are complaining they are bored, suggest something that gets them moving, like playing catch, hide and seek, or building a snowman in the yard.

Ending on a good note...

Whether you have a child with heart disease or you just wish your child would eat less junk food,and be more active. It is important to educate your children as well as yourself on the different keys to having a heart-healthy lifestyle! The Evian Roller Babies have the right idea - plenty of water, healthy eating, and lots of heart-healthy exercise...


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    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      @Seb - You are right that some parents show their love of their kids via food in the wrong way. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      @Fay - I like the roller babies also. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 7 years ago

      An excellent article. The roller babies are priceless.

    • profile image

      Seb@Pedometer watches 7 years ago

      There was a program on the BBC in the summer. The reporter followed a couple of families with little kids. In one family the daughter was barely 6 years old and had to have all her teeth out because they just fed her sweets and cookies. The other family had a son that was 10 years old I think and weighed 160 pounds or so. He wasn't encouraged to get much exercise despite the doctor's efforts. The mother even brought a stroller with her to pick him up from school in case he got tired. Quite frightening and the statistics are getting worse. I can't imagine the toll this is going to have on the health system in the future. As parents we have to ensure our kids look after themselves and do as much as possible to stay healthy. Thanks for an interesting hub.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, losestomachfat!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      I agree Maita, the kids are more into the indoors with minimal exercise now-a-days which is sad because they can have great fun outdoors. Happy holidays to you as well!

      Thanks for commenting...

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      good tips specially outdoor activity Money, I hope you are enjoying the holidays, Maita

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      You are welcome Madison22, it is important that we become more involved with kids and their health, I once heard that "this is a generation of kids that may die before their parents because of poor health." :(

    • Madison22 profile image

      Madison 8 years ago from NYC

      Hi money glitch, Thank you for your efforts on bringing awareness to this issue. Great hub!

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      You're welcome,! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image 8 years ago

      As a parent you want the best for your children. There is always a need to be aware of potential health issues so thanks for this informative Hub Money Glitch.