Heart-healthy tips for families during Heart-Healthy Month

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, hearts can be seen everywhere this month. But it isn’t the sweet candies or the heart-shaped cupcakes that make our heart healthy – explore how you can keep your kids and family heart-healthy this February.

Learn tips to keep your family heart-healthy this February. | MSU Extension

Learn tips to keep your family heart-healthy this February. | MSU Extension

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, hearts can be seen everywhere during the month of February. But it isn’t the sweet candies or the heart-shaped cupcakes that make our heart healthy – explore how you can keep your kids and family heart-healthy this February.

While we focus on heart health during February’s Heart-Healthy Month, keeping your heart healthy is really an everyday job. Having a healthy heart means blood is moving to all our organs and that we are doing our best to prevent heart disease and strokes. The important task of heart health helps us to ensure that both our own bodies and those of our children are able to enjoy life to the fullest at every age.

The American Heart Association has developed Life’s Simple Seven for Kids to help parents and youth understand what it means to keep your heart healthy. Below is a brief explanation of the simple seven.

  1. Avoid smoking and using tobacco products. Using any type of tobacco products affect all organs and can lead to heart disease and cancer.
  2. Be physically active every day. Get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every day. This might include bike riding, running, playing sports, dancing or other activities you enjoy!
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet. This means eating fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grain foods and lean proteins. Avoid drinks with added sugar and saturated fat.
  4. Keep a healthy weight. You can do this by eating right and being active.
  5. Keep your blood pressure healthy. You can help to keep your blood pressure at a normal level by keeping your weight healthy, eating a heart-healthy diet with low levels of sodium and getting enough regular physical activity.
  6. Keep your total cholesterol healthy. Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your bloodstream and cells that your body needs to function. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fats and high in whole grains to avoid cholesterol in your arteries.
  7. Keep your blood sugar healthy. To measure your blood sugar, you need to get help from your family doctor or health care professional. Keeping an eye on this will help avoid getting diabetes or heart disease.

If you’re looking for programs and resources to help teach adults or youth the importance of being healthy and active, Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H can help. To learn more about getting healthy, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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