Healthy Hearts for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

Hearts are the iconic shape for February, and not just because of Valentine’s Day. February marks American Heart Month, with efforts across the US to raise awareness for heart disease as well as the avoidable habits that can keep illness at bay. It’s a great time to check in on your family’s health and educate kids on the lifestyle factors that determine their wellbeing.

From food choices to being active, incorporating a few healthy habits in everyday life will keep their hearts in good shape way past Valentine’s Day.

Healthy food habits start at home, so it’s important for kids to be in the kitchen. Cooking together is a great method for teaching kids about nutrition and opening their appetites to new foods. The American Heart Association offers Simple Cooking with Heart for Kids, which is an awesome resource with recipes as well as talking points for parents.

Sitting down for meals together is not only a nice way to keep the family communicating and connected, but it also provides a time to talk about the food you’re eating. Chat about what’s on your plates, from nutritional value to proper portion sizes. Don’t forget about drinks; remind children that there’s a world of difference between enjoying sugary sodas and staying hydrated with water.

Physical activity is also crucial for healthy kids. They should typically be active for an hour a day, and there are tons of fun ways to do this for athletic and non-athletic children alike. Exercising with friends, learning how to play a new sport and enjoying the outdoors are just a few ideas. Try creating a family-wide challenge where everyone must be active for 1 hour per day for a few weeks, keeping a log of everyone’s activity.

Eating healthy and getting exercise are essential for growth and development, and that’s especially apparent when you look at the two together. Make the relationship between food and physical activity clear, reminding kids that healthy foods provide them with the energy they need to play and do their favorite activities.