UPDATE: Although you may not see heart attacks and strokes until middle age, the process of cardiovascular disease can begin early in life — often as children. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caretaker of children, this information is vital to their longevity. KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez and I talk about how to identify who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent or delay it.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Children

In a study of young American children, over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showed evidence of early heart disease (fatty streaks and plaque accumulated in the arteries). A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of CVD
  • Smoking

How Active and Inactive Should Children Be?

  • Engage in 60+ minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily
  • Spend 2 hours or less doing sedentary non-academic activities, such as watching TV, playing video/computer games

Inactivity at any age can lead to lifelong habits and result in developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Better in School  

An American College of Sports Medicine research study found that kids that engage in vigorous-intensity* activity were better able to concentrate and even exhibited fewer behavioral problems than kids that participated in moderate-intensity activity.

*Vigorous exercise is performed at a higher intensity and is continuous, such as soccer, basketball, football, ice skating, beach volleyball, baseball, softball, jump roping, swimming, and singles tennis.

How Many Steps Are Enough?

  • Children 6-12 years old: 12,000 to 15,000 steps per day (about 6 to 7.5 miles)
  • Less than 5,000 steps per day is considered sedentary (about 2.5 miles)

oatmeal with fresh fruitExercise and Nutrition

  • Kids need fuel to have the energy to be physically active.
  • When kids feel good and perform well, they’ll have more fun.
  • Provide children heart-healthy meals and snacks.

KRON 4 Childhood Heart Disease2

Karen’s Fit TipStart the cycle… By engaging in activities with your kids (and grandkids) when they’re young, you can make physical activity a memorable and lifelong family affair.  It’s a great way to spend time together, connect, and be entertained.

Karen Owoc

Karen Owoc is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist specializing in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle medicine. Her science-based approach to longevity, nutrition, and muscle health has made her the go-to source for health seekers and medical professionals alike. Karen's best-selling book on functional longevity, "Athletes in Aprons: The Nutrition Playbook to Break 100", and her transformative perspective have mended many minds, hearts, and spirits.

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