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Are You And Your Children Taking Care Of Your Tickers?

Are you and your children taking care of your tickers?

We need to do a lot more to take care of our cardiovascular health - especially when it comes to our kids. (Photo: Thinkstock)

While February may have been Heart Month, taking care of our tickers and those of our children should be a year-round priority. Andreas Bergdahl, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Concordia University, says that based on the Heart & Stroke 2017 Report on the Health of Canadians, we need to do a lot more to take care of our cardiovascular health — especially when it comes to our kids.

“The Heart & Stroke Foundation released a report that looks into the health of young children, saying obesity rates for young kids and adolescents have tripled since the 1970s,” Bergdahl said. “They are saying if we don’t do something about this in terms of health and lack of activity, this generation of children will end up in poorer health than the generation before.”

In fact, he said it could get so bad that children might end up in emergency rooms with their grandparents suffering from the same ailments.

A few quick facts pulled from the Heart & Stroke 2017 Report:

  • Unhealthy diets were responsible for about 50,000 deaths in Canada in 2015.
  • The economic burden of obesity in Canada due to direct healthcare costs and indirect costs from lost productivity is estimated to be between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually.
  • Processed food purchases have doubled in 70 years to 60 per cent of family food purchases.
  • As much as 90 per cent of food and beverages marketed on TV are high in salt, fat or sugar.

Both adults and children are experiencing an overall lack of activity, Bergdahl explained, and this is due to experiencing more screen time than any previous generation.

“When I speak to our students and nurses, we think that our kids are active, and yes, they are, with one hour of soccer or hockey a day, but we forget those other 23 hours,” he said. “It’s important to increase everyday activity.”

On average, children have eight hours of screen time a day, which means being sedentary for an extended period of time — which is very unhealthy.

Adults also need to stay active and be more proactive about their health.

“We, too, go to the gym for an hour but forget about the rest of the day,” Bergdahl said. “We say ‘I went to the gym’ and we go home and sit on the couch with our bowl of snacks. We negate what we did. Going to the gym is a good thing but you also need to incorporate more movement during the day.”

Processed foods are a contributing factor to our overall declining heart health as well.

“Today we have a lot of processed foods — food where they’ve added fat, sodium and sugar — and we have an unusually high level of those,” said Bergdahl. “Food manufacturers add lots of sugar because it makes the food tastier, and we love that reward from eating a lot of sugar. But you start to crash, so you have a little more sugar, and you keep going, which is a big part of the problem. We’re driven by insulin spikes, and it becomes a never-ending cycle.”

It’s important to eat more foods that are metabolized slower, like whole grains, fruits, and lots of fibre. That way, we’d feel full for a longer period of time without those ups and downs.

Here’s a quick fix to get you started on the track of heart health: use a fitness tracker to help monitor and encourage good habits.

“They have alarms and will buzz you if you haven’t moved around in awhile,” said Bergdahl. “All you have to do is get up and go to the copy machine or walk around the hallway. This is incredibly important: just getting up every now and then.”

Story Credit: http://www.thesuburban.com/life/health/are-you-and-your-children-taking-care-of-your-tickers/article_41941f83-adfa-5f2a-ac48-8ce13b51fd38.html