February is American Heart Month! It is a time to focus on what it means to be heart healthy, so let’s look at some fun activities you can do with your kids to learn about #OurHearts and how to be heart healthy!
Play doctor with a working stethoscope!
Kids love dramatic play! Why not spice up their doctor kit with a working play stethoscope or make your own! Join in the fun and try to find each others heartbeats! There is so much to learn about the heart so why not talk with your child and ask them what they know; you may be surprised! Talk about how the heart works and what it does to help keep us alive and healthy!
American Heart Month Focus: Physical Activity
One of the most important things we can do to keep our heart healthy is to keep moving! Physical activity and exercise is a critical part in maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle, and is one of the sole focuses of American Heart Month. There are plenty of fun ways to encourage your children (and your own inner child) to stay physically active!
I like to move it, move it… like the animals
Let your kids have fun exercising by having them move like different animals! Hop like a frog, crawl like a crab, bounce like a bunny; your kids will have a blast being silly and imitating the movement of various types of animals!
Family Fitness Night
Fun activities bring family together! Use your Family Night to get moving and make some fun memories too! Set up an obstacle course in the backyard! Play put put mini golf! Use balloons in place of basketballs and play a game! Have a Freeze Dance Party! There are so many fun activities that you can do to get moving together as a family!
Dance Party Time
Speaking of dancing, that is such good exercise and is so much fun! Why not just have a straight up dance party! Whip out the stereo (or bluetooth speakers) and crank up the tunes! What decade is calling you? My mother and I used to have Madonna Dance Parties when I was little, lots of fun and great memories! 80s is always a good decade to look to for a great Dance Party Playlist! Get to grooving and remember to cut loose – footloose!
How does oral hygiene fit into American Heart Month?
While studies have not proven that good oral hygiene directly impacts heart disease, they have shown that individuals who suffer from gum disease do have an increased risk in developing it. Brushing teeth is such an important part of your daily routine! Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes is what is recommended by the ADA.
As soon as your child has their first few teeth, around 6 months or so, you should instill the importance of brushing their teeth. At first you can just wipe them clean with a cloth or use an extra soft toothbrush, removing extra formula/breast milk or food and removing plaque. At 18 mos you can use a pea sized amount of children’s toothpaste to brush their teeth without rinsing.
Be sure to encourage them to spit out the toothpaste when they are done brushing as the toothpastes they will use later will have much more fluoride in it and can be dangerous to consume. All surfaces of their teeth and gums should be brushed twice a day; after breakfast and before bed. Your child will need help with building the habit of brushing their teeth until they are around 7 or 8! Instilling these good habits early is essential to building a strong foundation for their overall health and wellness in the future!
American Heart Month Focus: Heart Healthy Eating
One other important aspect that is focused on during American Heart Month is a healthy diet! Modeling healthy eating to your kids is super important for setting the foundation for lifelong nutrition and healthy eating. Make the most out of this month by doing research on heart healthy eating and enjoying some fun activities by gathering together and making a heart healthy recipe, or cuddle up with a movie and some heart healthy movie snacks. Get creative and explore the numerous heart healthy foods that are both nutritious and delicious!
How to Save a Life:
Get CPR and First Aid Certified as a Family
Did you know you could get a CPR and First Aid Certification as young as 11! If you have older kids this is a great activity and definitely one that is useful! Go take the class and get your two year certification as a family! Learn how to save a life and help in a situation that needs it! You will never regret taking that class!