Like father, like son: Building a tradition of good health

With the rate of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity running rampant in this country, people are discovering the key behind prevention. The best gift a father could give his children are the practices of good health.

It’s not uncommon for an adult to engage in a conversation about his cholesterol. “No pie for me, thanks. I’m watching my fat intake. I need to get my LDL numbers down.”

Can you imagine the same conversation among young people? Most can’t. And yet the percentage of obesity and juvenile diabetes among young people is considered by World Health Organization to be “the most serious health challenge of the 21st Century.”

Most health experts agree that prevention is key when controlling high blood cholesterol and other diseases associated with a high LDL count. Although one may think dialogue about cholesterol is better suited for the dining table at a retirement center instead of a school cafeteria, think again.

Establishing healthy habits should begin early. With children being educated on making healthy food choices and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.

Now, here’s a thought: this need for exercising a healthy lifestyle places added pressure on parents to act as a positive role model for their children. Yet, considering heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, this need to act better for our children can have far-reaching advantages for most adults. By incorporating just one of the following suggestions, you and your family may experience positive results in overall health.

1. Learn to love fruits and vegetable

Make sure fresh fruit is readily available for children to grab when they are looking for a snack. Incorporate vegetables and whole grains into your meals. Some recipes are even designed to hide vegetables within popular meals for kids. Parents, be the good example by making sure your children see you eating fresh fruits and vegetables, too.

2. Facilitate Family Fun Nights

This could mean a game of golf, tennis, bowling, a walk through the neighborhood or a family bike ride. By scheduling time regularly to encourage physical activity as a family introduces children to regular exercise and enhances the relationship of family members.

3. The magic in “20”

What can you do in 20 minutes? Wash the car? Fold laundry? Finish math homework? Increase age longevity? In their book, “You: The Owner’s Manual. An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger,” physicians Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz promote 20 minutes of exercise three times per week. If you don’t have the time, find the time. By investing 20 minutes toward exercise, you can prevent, reduce and reverse the damage done to arteries, joints, your heart, your waistline and your attitude toward good health. Twenty minutes makes a huge difference.

These suggestions, along with regular sleep schedules, a reduction in time spent in front of screens, and less fat in their diet, can encourage life-enhancing activities that will ensure your children will enjoy a full, healthy life for many years to come, and so will you. Now, isn’t that a better gift to share with your family than another tie?

Amy Cook

Dr. Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Communication. She is Dir. of Provider Relations at North American Health Care and taught writing, communication, and marketing classes at ASU, BYU, and Univ of Utah.