When it comes to heart health, what is good for you is good for your whole family—including its youngest members. We now know that two-thirds of teenagers have at least one risk factor for heart disease, from being overweight and “couch potato-itis” to unhealthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Even more disturbing, about one million U.S. teenagers have metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of risk factors that greatly increases the risk of a later heart attack. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to help them develop heart healthy habits—and the earlier the better.

Here are some ways to begin:

Set a good example. Adults have a big influence on children’s and teens’ behavior—even though kids may not want to admit it. If you follow a healthy lifestyle, the younger members of your family will be more likely to do the same. Let them see you eating nutritious snacks and enjoying outdoor activities, and invite them to join in. If you smoke, stop—and tell your kids and grandkids why you are quitting.

What’s cooking’? Fully 80 percent of children eat fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. What to do? Practice “stealth cooking”—creating healthy meals for kids that will still make their mouths water. You can chop veggies into small pieces and add them to favorite recipes, such as pizza or spaghetti sauce. If your kids love tacos, try replacing taco shells with crunchy lettuce leaves, and pile on some extra chopped tomato. Use whole-wheat or bran breads to add fiber to sandwiches. For dessert, skip the ice cream and offer fresh fruit, fig bars, ginger snaps, graham crackers, or frozen fat-free dairy desserts.

Raise “kitchen kids.” Most children enjoy cooking when it is presented as an easy, fun activity. Show young kids how to clean fruits and veggies and combine them into colorful salads. Let them make fruit salad faces out of sliced apples, bananas, and raisins. When they are old enough, teach children to use the stove, oven, microwave, and toaster safely. Show teens how to make simple, healthy dishes, such as whole-grain pasta with vegetables and broiled chicken or fish. Encourage them to be creative with herbs and spices. Children who have basic kitchen skills appreciate food more and are more likely to try new dishes.

Get them moving. The latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommend that children and teenagers be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day. Yet, in a world chock full of video games, TV shows, and computer offerings, few young people are as active as they should be. To encourage children to get off the couch, find out what kinds of physical activities they do enjoy and make it easy for them to participate. If the kids in your family like to ride bikes, plan a Sunday outing on your local trail. Walk, cycle, or jog with them to places close by. Use your backyard or local park to toss a Frisbee around or to play a game of basketball, badminton, or volleyball.

Try to gear activities to children’s ages. Younger kids, up to age 10, tend to have quick bursts of energy sandwiched between longer periods of rest, while older children usually have more endurance. Play down the competition, play up the fun, and pretty soon, your kids may start asking you to shoot some hoops. Better get in shape!

Dr. Bobish

Dr. Bobish and her team’s goal is to help you reduce your risk of heart disease. Helping you to understand your risk factors and make healthful lifestyle changes.

Remember regardless of age or current state of health it is never too late to start protecting your heart. It is also never too soon and the sooner you act the better. Follow us on Facebook to see our latest post helping to keep you heart healthy. You can also explore all our articles that offer diet and exercise tips, recipes and information on procedures and heart disease.

Dr. Bobish and her team focus on preventative care and are here to support you. Alpine Cardiology provides patients with education as well as compassionate care and treatment. We are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart! Request an appointment at 989-448-7002

Guide to a Healthy Heart

We are committed to keeping Northern Michigan healthy and heart-smart!

Over the next several months we will be publishing a series of articles that will become A Guide to a Healthy Heart. By breaking these guidelines into chapters we are able to offer more in depth information on the topics. Watch our Facebook page or website for the latest article.

Alpine Cardiology’s goal is to give you a better understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of your heart. To take the mystery out of what the tests are and what they mean. To encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors and how to reduce your risk. The more you know and understand the more likely you are to be successful in reducing risk and having a healthier lifestyle.

Links to published chapters are below if you would like to explore the guide more.

  1. Why should I care about heart disease?
  2. Heart Disease – What you need to know
  3. Are you at risk of developing heart disease?
  4. What are your numbers?
  5. Major Risk Factors
  6. Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk
  7. Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
  8. Weight and Heart Disease
  9. Diabetes and Heart Disease
  10. What Else Affects Heart Disease
  11. Risk Factors Specific to Women
  12. Taking Charge: An Action Plan for Heart Health
  13. Give Your Heart a Little TLC
  14. Figuring Out Fat
  15. Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 1
  16. Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 2
  17. Time to be Active
  18. You Can Quit Smoking
  19. Aspirin – Take with Caution
  20. Heart Healthy is a Family Affair
  21. A Change of Heart