November 12, 2023 // by Dr. Supriya Jain

Small changes can make a big difference to your child’s heart. 

A lifetime of heart health requires daily exercise, healthy eating habits, and a positive mindset. Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Supriya Jain, encourages these small changes in your child’s routine.

  1. Swap out soda and juice for water.
    • Encourage your children to drink plenty of water. Hosting a family competition to see who can drink the most water throughout the day is a fun way to keep kids engaged.
  2. Swap out electronics for time outdoors
    • Instead of playing on their phones, iPads, and video games, create an opportunity to play outdoors. This includes playing at the park, walking the dog, building a snowman, riding bikes and scooters, playing ball, and much more.
  3. Swap out electronics for family games
    • Add a heart-healthy twist to board games. Require sit-ups or jumping jacks for every losing turn.
  4. Swap out chips for veggies.
    • Crunchy carrots, peppers, celery, and cucumbers are a healthy alternative to salty snacks.
  5. Swap out dessert for sweet fruits
    • Sweet and juicy fruits like strawberries, lychee, blueberries, grapes, and apples can curb a sweet tooth. Adequate fiber intake keeps the heart and gut healthy.
  6. Swap take-out for a home-cooked family dinner
    • Involve your child in meal planning, cooking, and cleaning. The whole family can participate making it a family date night.  
  7. Swap out driving for walking or riding a bike.
    • Instead of riding to school in a car or bus, encourage your child to walk or ride their bike at least once a week, weather permitting. This can be with an older sibling or parent so your child is not alone. Let your child know this is good for their heart and the earth!
  8. Swap out complaints with positivity.
    • Mornings can be stressful, but avoiding complaints and creating a positive attitude for the day will encourage a healthy routine. 
  9. Swap out reactivity to stress with mindfulness
    • Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease. Meeting with a behavioral health consultant can provide support for children experiencing excess stress, and teach them healthy ways to cope.

It’s never too early to teach your kids healthy habits. Heart Month is a great opportunity to start incorporating healthy changes into your family’s routine.