February is American Heart Month! All month long Compass Charter Schools (CCS) is celebrating by sharing important information about heart health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that almost 1 in 3 Americans are living with high-risk medical conditions that contribute to heart disease and stroke. The CDC also reports that over 600,00 Americans die of heart disease every year.
The good news is that there are simple steps that both adults and children can take to protect their hearts and decrease their chances of heart disease. This month is the perfect time for families and educators to teach children about healthy habits to care for their hearts.
Here are 5 simple ways that parents can help raise heart-healthy children:
A Healthy Diet
Choosing a healthy diet can improve and maintain good heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease. The CDC encourages families to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and to avoid processed foods. They also recommend avoiding foods containing saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sugar and high sodium levels. Instead, families can choose to enjoy foods that are high in fiber and naturally colorful. Parents can make eating healthy food fun by inviting their children to get involved during grocery shopping trips. Children can help pick out fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section. Or, families can even enjoy picking their own fresh produce at local farms. This experience can help children learn about the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that grow and when they are ready to harvest throughout the year!
Physical activity is another important way to protect a child’s heart health. Staying active can help children maintain a healthy weight and lower their blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels, which all help decrease the risk of heart complications. The Surgeon General recommends that children get at least one hour of physical exercise every day.
Sleep is an essential part of maintaining good health, especially heart health. In fact, sleep deprivation can be very harmful and increase a child’s chances of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart complications. Children typically need at least eight hours of sleep each night, but parents should always consult with their child’s healthcare provider. Parents can help ensure that their children are getting enough sleep by encouraging them to follow a sleep schedule. Following a sleep schedule can help children fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day, which often increases their chances of getting a good night’s rest. Parents can consider adding other special touches to their child’s sleep routine like reading a story before bedtime or listening to gentle music when they wake up!
Stress can have a negative impact on heart health. We encourage parents to help their children implement healthy practices to manage their stress. Peer pressure, homework deadlines, tests, class projects and challenges at home are examples of factors that can cause a child to feel stressed. When stress is not properly managed it can negatively impact heart health and increase the chances of heart disease. Parents are strongly encouraged to talk with their child about their feelings to determine if their child is feeling stressed. It’s important that children learn to relieve their stress through healthy activities like art, music, dance, meditation, sports and more. CCS has a great team of credential school counselors who are available to support scholars who may need help managing their stress. The counselors are also available to support parents who may want advice on how to help their children reduce their stress.
Regular Health Screenings
It’s important for children to regularly visit their healthcare provider. Preventative care can help children reduce their risk of developing serious health problems, including heart complications. A healthcare provider can monitor a child’s blood pressure and other factors that determine heart health. Routine health screenings allow healthcare providers to identify any health concerns early in a child’s life. Once identified those concerns can be addressed and managed properly before becoming too severe. We encourage scholars and their families to receive routine health screenings to ensure a bright and healthy future!
Compass Charter Schools (CCS) is a WASC-accredited virtual charter school that serves families throughout California. Interested in learning more about CCS’ flexible academic programs? Visit our website, or contact our enrollment team at [email protected] or (877) 506-8631.