Probably the number one rule to follow is being a good example of living a healthy lifestyle in front of your kids. Actions do speak louder than words. Living healthy lifestyles creates healthier hearts and helps to prevent heart disease.

Work on getting the entire family active and plan times for everyone to be active together. You can take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, mow grass, and do gardening. The list is endless. Everyone benefits from the exercise and the time together, and you are one more step closer to preventing heart disease in yourself and your kids.

Remember to limit the time you allow your kids to sit in front of the T.V., video game and computer. These activities and habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and possibly unhealthy snacking, which increases risks for childhood obesity and heart disease.

Never reward your kids with food, especially candy and snacks. Candy and snacks as a reward encourage unhealthy lifestyle habits and unhealthy hearts. Instead, celebrate your child’s good behavior with a quick game of hide and seek or a walk through a favorite park or scenic area.

Set specific goals and limits such as two or three desserts per week other than the usual healthier fruit and one hour of physical activity per day.

Eating on the go can be especially hard. Trying to feed your children nutritious meals in between all your daily activities and chores is a real challenge. You probably find yourself zooming around town to dance recitals, baseball practices, pick-up preschoolers, and pick-up your dry cleaning, stop at the post office, among zillions of other round about trips here and there. If you have to eat on the go, review the following tips to make fast food healthier for you and your heart:

• Buy the smaller size of fries or anything you purchase on the go
• Eat only a burger or a sandwich and no sides. If you want a side, order fruit cup or side salad
• Avoid the double meat and bacon sandwiches. Try grilled chicken sandwiches
• Eat only half the bun or one slice of the bread with your sandwich
• Ask for a wheat bun or wheat bread
• Skip mayo and other dressings and sauces
• Drink water, diet soda or low-fat milk

Are your kids non-athletes? Team and competitive sports are a great way for kids to get their daily exercise, build healthy bones, strong hearts and lungs. However, competitive sports are not for every child. Review the following tips to help get your child up and moving:

• If your kid is embarrassed or does not think he or she is good enough to participate in sports, try to find time to practice together and help build their confidence
• For kids that just don’t like competing in sports, try introducing swimming, horseback riding, dancing, cycling, skateboarding, yoga, walking, and gymnastics. Work to find your child’s interests.
• Never make exercise a punishment. Never force your child to go out and play. Try using physical activity to counter something your child does not want to do, such as homework. Try making it routine that your child rides a bike for 20 minutes or so before doing homework each night. He or she may ride a little longer just to put off doing the homework a little longer.

Try to incorporate healthy eating habits and activity into every child’s schedule to lay the groundwork for healthy hearts as adults. And remember, practice what you teach. Actions always speak louder than words.

Source: The American Heart Association

Disclaimer: *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

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(c) 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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Written by: Connie Limon. Visit for an extensive list of FREE reprint articles about Heart Disease and healthy living for healthy hearts.