Margaret Gray, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Pediatric Cardiology
Some parents and adults tend to have a mentality that “kids will be kids.” However, many of the habits people form at a young age will follow them into adulthood. That’s why it’s so important to instill heart-healthy habits into children while they are young to decrease their risk for heart disease as adults. Here are four tips Margaret Gray, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Pediatric Cardiology, gives to parents to help encourage their children to live a heart-healthy lifestyle:
- Be active. There are ways to get active without feeling like you’re exercising. Some activities Dr. Gray recommends for kids are playing on the playground, riding a bike or dribbling a basketball for 30 to 60 minutes a day.
- Have a heart-healthy diet. It’s important for children to eat a well-balanced diet with foods from all food groups, more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and minimal saturated fats and processed foods.
- Make it a family affair. Dr. Gray said, “The biggest barrier for getting heart healthy is when families don’t do things together. If parents aren’t participating, it’s hard for kids to get motivated.” Picking out healthy meals to cook with your children and finding fun activities to do as a family are great ways to get everybody involved with heart-healthy activities.
- Have regular visits with your pediatrician. It’s important that pediatricians know your family medical history and any risk factors that kids may have for heart disease.
Starting these heart-healthy habits when kids are still young can prevent them from getting diseases such as coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension when they get older. Early prevention is the most successful way to keep adults from having heart disease. The best time to start making these changes is now!
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