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You can take charge of your child’s heart health by developing habits now that will reap benefits later in life.

Mālama Ola Minute: 8 tips for raising heart-healthy keiki

Feb. 8, 2023

February is American Heart Month – a great time to show your keiki a little extra love by helping them take good care of their hearts. You can take charge of your child’s heart health by developing habits now that will reap benefits later in life. Here are some tips to help lower your child’s risk of developing heart disease:

  1. Stay active
    It is recommended that keiki get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Try exercising as a family – take a walk, ride bikes, play games, or go swimming. Start with finding out the activities and sports your child is interested in and encouraging them to participate. It will not only be beneficial for their health but yours as well
  2. Limit time on TV and other screens
    Excessive screen time, could lead to more sedentary habits and the increased risk of a sedentary lifestyle. This can increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. Ensure that your keiki don’t spend more than two hours on screen daily. This includes video games, movies, and any other computer activity that is not school-related.
  3. Schedule regular checkups
    It is important to stay up-to-date on routine checkups with your child’s primary care provider (PCP) to promote overall health and wellness. Regular checkups with your child’s PCP can help determine if your child is at risk of developing heart conditions. If your keiki is at increased risk or has already been diagnosed with a heart condition, their PCP most likely will refer your child to a heart specialist, known as a cardiologist, for further evaluation. It is still important to remember that even though you have a cardiologist, or any type of specialist, you still need to keep in touch with your child’s PCP, who is in charge of your child’s overall medical care.
  4. Provide healthy options
    When your child comes home from school or after playing, offer them a healthy snack. The snack could include vegetables, whole grain, fruits, dried fruits, etc. Try to avoid fried food, sodas, candy, or fast food which are typically high in fat, sugar, and cholesterol – the main culprits in causing heart disease.
  5. Involve your keiki in dinner plans
    If your children are involved in planning and cooking healthy meals, they may be more likely to make healthy food choices later in life. Before you start grocery shopping, ask your keiki what they love to eat! Making a list of your family’s favorite meals is a great way to get everyone involved in planning, shopping, prepping and most importantly eating. Encourage healthy choices and try to incorporate fruits and vegetables in every meal.
  6. Do not smoke
    Limiting childrenʻs exposure to second-hand smoke is critical for their overall health and development. Modeling healthy examples of a smoke-free lifestyle may be something to consider.
  7. Be realistic
    It is important for families to set realistic limits and goals on their approach to a healthier lifestyle. Even gradual changes and small steps can end up making a big difference to your child’s health. If you start too big, your child may get overwhelmed and give up altogether. Starting small and gradually building up may feel more doable for the entire ʻohana.
  8. Be positive
    Make heart health fun! Plan outings like walking or riding bikes to nearby a park for a healthy meal. Also, promote a sense of self-esteem in your keiki by celebrating small wins!


Eat Smart, Move More! calendar
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Million Hearts, CDC

Healthy for good
American Heart Association

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