Heart health is important at all stages of life, especially since the choices we make in younger years can mean heart problems later in life.
Since February is National Heart Month, there is no time like the present to think about ways to get your family on the heart-healthy path! With family schedules busier than ever, making healthy choices can seem very daunting. But have no fear, there are lots of great, easy ways that you and your family can start taking steps toward heart-healthier habits.
- Find time for activity. Keep track of each family member’s daily activities for one week. You’ll get a snapshot of when you might be able to get the family together for physical activity. It can also help you see which activities you can cut back on. Then decide on two 30-minute and two 60-minute slots for family activity time. Weekdays are usually better for 30-minute activities and weekends are better for 60-minute activities. Try activities such as walking the dog, exploring your neighborhood or putting on music and dancing around the house!
- Make time to plan a weekly menu, go shopping and prep your meals. Keep track of how many times you grab food on the go for one week. Once you find blocks of time when you can do a little planning, it’ll be easy to learn healthy preparation methods, fix healthy snacks and eat fewer fast and processed foods. Find some great tips here on how to prepare fast, healthy meals for the week.
- Simplify your family’s schedule. In today’s society we’re expected to do it all. But this type of non-stop lifestyle isn’t sustainable or healthy. Try prioritizing your activities and see what you can do without so you’ll have more time for the things that matter. You can also work on stress management methods (see some great tips here).
- Take baby steps, not giant leaps. If you’re the head of your household, making sure that all the heads and hearts in your home are healthy is a lot to handle. The key is to take baby steps. Getting heart-healthy is a journey; you don’t have to do everything at once. Start with increasing activity and healthy foods, and you’ve already made progress!
- Ask everyone in the family to do their part. Depending on their ages, kids can help prepare healthy meals and help around the house. Treat your family like a team and encourage everyone to work together.
- Live by example. We all need to do our best to walk the walk. If we want our kids to eat healthy and exercise, we’ve got to model that behavior. You’re not perfect, but if you’re determined and persistent, there’s not much that can stop you.
No matter how busy your family is, you can find time to work in a few heart-healthy activities and habits. Before you know it, these healthy choices will be the new normal! Just take it one small step at a time.