• Cardiovascular

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Tips for family heart health

Many people don't think about heart disease as a childhood issue. Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says a child's eating and exercise habits can influence heart health in the future. He offers tips on how families can develop a lifetime of better heart health by integrating fun choices into their daily routines.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: A broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.

A lifetime of heart health starts in childhood.

“We know that kids do what they learn. If they learn to eat healthy, they continue to do it. If they learn to be physically active, they continue to do it.”

Dr. Kopecky says a child’s eating habits form between ages 10-12, and exercise habits develop between ages 6 and 8. If those habits are not heart-healthy …

“We can predict if they’re more likely to have heart disease later in life.”

Dr. Kopecky suggests families get heart-healthy together, and the key is to make it fun.

“What we’ve done in this country is, sometimes, we make it punitive. ‘Oh, I’ve got to eat that? Ugh.’ You know, who wants to do that? Or remember PE classes in school?”

Do activities that get you and your family moving and smiling. Let your kids help plan and cook family meals. Dr. Kopecky says the family that moves, eats and smiles together, gets healthy together.