Health Library

Categories > Children’s Health > Raising healthy kids

Giving kids a head start on a healthy heart

It’s never too late—or too early—to start your kids on the path to an active lifestyle. Take these suggestions from the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to motivate, excite and involve your children:

Lead by example. Kids model their parents’ behavior. Practice heart-healthy habits, such as eating well and moving more, and your children will likely follow.

Wean screen time. Limit television, movies, videos and computer games to less than two hours a day. Instead, encourage more active pursuits, like going for a nature walk or tossing a softball in the backyard.

Involve them in decisions. Young children love to try new things. At the grocery store, educate them on healthy foods and let them pick new ones to try. Give older kids suggestions rather than telling them what to do, and then ask them to choose. For example, keep healthy food in the house, but allow them to make their own snacks and meals.

Create active time together. Plan family outings and vacations that involve vigorous activities such as bicycling, swimming, hiking or skiing.

Observe their interests. Be aware of the activities your children like and find ways to keep them involved. Some children love team sports while others prefer individual activities.

Give the gift of fitness. Choose gifts for your children that encourage physical activity, such as a jump rope, a tennis racket or a membership to a sport or outdoors club.

Communicate. Talk to your children about growing tall and strong, feeling healthy and being good at sports. By connecting a healthy lifestyle to benefits that are relevant to them you’ll be assisting them in establishing their own healthy goals.