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Avoiding Heart Disease in Children and Adults

Date Published: Feb, 05 2014

Heart disease is the number one cause of death and disability in America today. According to the CDC, it's also one of the most preventable causes of death in our country. Simple changes in your daily routine can help prevent you from becoming one of the 200,000 preventable deaths from heart disease each year.

Get Your Heart Rate Up
Adults need at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise each week (you should break a sweat and raise your heart rate and maintain that level of activity for at least 10 minutes at a time). If you're unsure how to start a healthy exercise program, work with your doctor to ensure your progress is safe and sustainable. Children require at least an hour of physical activity each day.

Don't assume that your kids are getting enough exercise at recess or during PE. The majority of high school students are not enrolled in any kind of physical education program. If you have an elementary age student talk to their teacher, coach and playground attendants about their activity. Even if your child is involved in sports, set aside time to practice fitness activities as a family. Get creative and accommodate everyone's speed and fitness levels. Small children might not be able to keep up with parents on a bike but can ride along as you jog and if your children ride their bikes too fast for you to keep up on foot but are too slow for you to ride along try roller skating alongside them.

Eat Well
Even if you work 40 hours a week, you can make healthy and delicious meals at home or make smart choices when dining out. One simple guideline for planning a quick and healthy meal is to choose meals that use fewer ingredients, cook quickly, contain lean meats and containing a green vegetable as well as a red or orange vegetable.

If you do have a picky eater, don't require him to clean his plate but do consider requiring him to take a ‘no thank you' bite of each food. Spend a few weeks double checking your portions by weighing and measuring each serving. It won't take long for you to be able recognize the proper portion sizes and you'll give yourself the opportunity to recognize when you're about to consume a second serving.

Drink Wisely
Many Americans don't realize how many liquid calories they consume each day. Although fruit drinks, smoothies and health drinks may seem like a great way to squeeze in extra servings of fruits and vegetables, they may not be as satisfying as whole foods. If you do choose these drinks treat them like a real servings, measuring them out and planning them into your daily meals; don't let them become the unnoticed extra calories that throw your healthy lifestyle out of whack.

One good way to reduce the consumption of unhealthy calories is to eliminate sodas, fruit punches and other sugary drinks from your diet. As tasty as these treats are they provide no health benefit and aren't hydrating due to the high levels of caffeine, sugar and salt they typically contain. Although you can drink a greater volume of soda for 100 calories than nutrient dense liquids like milk, you will find that you get more bang for your buck when choosing the healthier option. Most of the liquids you consume should be water. By the time you feel thirsty, your body has already entered the first stage of dehydration.

Remember that change can be hard and the occasional slip up is to be expected. The most important thing is to give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle.

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