Starting Small: Little Changes with Big Impact on Kids’ Heart Health

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Heart health is something that should be taken seriously because the alternative can be deadly. According to the UK government’s Office for National Statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and the second leading cause of death among women.

The prevalence of heart disease, though, is mostly associated with ageing. As a result, the topic of heart health is more talked about among adults. However, educating children about the importance of heart health and the measures to achieve it can help reduce the risk of them developing heart disease later in life.

If you’re a parent or a guardian of young kids, try instilling healthy habits and lessons in your children. These do not have to be complicated, either since you can start with small steps. Among the small things you can help your children do are the following:

Stay physically active

Kids are generally more active than adults because they tend to play games that involve running around. If your kid is naturally active, then all you need do is direct this energy to a sport or some similar activity. You can enrol them in different sports programmes such as rugby classes in Beckenham. Children who are not keen on physical activity will also benefit from being part of a team, as this will motivate them to get active in a fun and friendly setting.

Physical activity allows the heart to work better under stress and promotes improved blood flow in the vessels around the heart. As a result, the risk of developing heart disease is reduced. Sports programmes also have the bonus of teaching young ones about sportsmanship, friendship and the value of teamwork.

Snack healthy

Don’t invite temptation into your home – refrain from buying unhealthy snacks like chips and cookies, save for an occasional treat. Instead, buy fruits such as apples, bananas and grapes and cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Freeze them, then have your kids snack on these juicy fruits. It’s also always a great option to pack a banana or an apple in your kid’s lunch bag.

An unhealthy diet is a key risk factor in coronary heart disease (CHD). When your kids have an unhealthy diet from such a young age, they are at risk for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which may lead to CHD.

Limit salt intake

Salt plays a crucial role in human health. It’s the source of sodium and chloride, which are essential for muscle function and fluid regulation. The downside, though, is that too much sodium may cause hypertension, which can then lead to stroke or heart disease.

Of course, kids don’t want to eat bland-tasting food. But instead of using salt, try replacing it with healthier spices such as rosemary, cinnamon or turmeric. These spices, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, lower the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

Have enough sleep

Little girl sleeping

When a person is sleep-deprived, the hormones responsible for suppressing appetite are reduced. This causes a person to eat more, which then leads to unhealthy weight gain. Obesity in itself is a risk factor for heart disease, for many reasons. Plus, sleep deprivation, in general, compromises the overall function of the body, especially over long periods.

With enough sleep, though, the body can function normally and the heart isn’t stressed. The best way to establish this is by assigning a proper “bedtime” if your child doesn’t already have one. Additionally, take gadgets like phones and laptops away and turn off the telly an hour or so before it’s time for bed. This allows your child’s brain to disengage and wind down from all the stimulation.

By teaching your kids to prioritise heart health at an early age, you’re helping them reduce the risk of developing heart disease. What’s more, they’re going to be health-conscious citizens growing up, which can only be a good thing.

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