I’m sure you love your grandchildren more than anything. Their young, smiling faces represent so much love, innocence, potential, and energetic fun. But those children will grow up one day, and it’s partly your responsibility to protect them from future disease. Nobody is immune to the reality of chronic illness.
But you’re lucky. There is so much proof and information about how lifestyle choices affect disease risk that you can instill the values of a healthy existence in your grandkids to save them from many of the health conditions currently plaguing our society. Health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and others are largely preventable with the right lifestyle choices. This includes eating right and getting exercise—choices that you can promote and use to influence your grandchildren to live a healthier lifestyle.
Habits for Life Form at a Young Age
New research presented to the American Heart Association showed that maintaining a healthy heart while young might prevent future disease and disability. So get your grandkids up from in front of their television or tablet, and get them outside to run around, shoot hoops, skate, sled, or any kind of activity whatsoever. As long as they’re up and active, there’s a chance those habits will stick with them for life.
The study lasted more than three decades, starting in 1967. Participants were between the ages of 29 and 68 when it began, and researchers found that people who were at a low risk for heart and blood vessel disease when they were young adults—based on blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI)—were 60% less likely to report a disability as older adults. It’s likely because the low-risk individuals were practicing heart-healthy lifestyles at the start of the study, and continued to do so throughout their lives.
By instilling the foundations of a healthy lifestyle in your grandchildren, you could pave the way to a pain-free life and good health that lasts long into their future. Perhaps you could make your home a mostly screen-free zone for the kids, while cooking healthy meals and encouraging activity. You can still spend time with them; just provide an opportunity for them to get some activity at the same time.
It Can Improve Your Health, Too!
A good friend of mine spent a lot of her life sedentary. Yes, she raised two boys, held down a family and a job, but she wasn’t particularly active or too concerned about her nutrition. However, when one of her sons announced a grandchild was on the way, she changed her tune. She wanted to be able to keep up with her soon-to-be grandchild, so she hired a personal trainer, got her nutrition in order, and embraced a far more active lifestyle.
Her lifestyle, diet, body, and energy levels transformed, and she became youthful and rejuvenated. Her granddaughter is now six and she’s never looked back. They run around and play together in the yard, go on bike rides and honestly, my 63-year-old friend behaves like an energetic six-year-old when they’re together. It’s truly remarkable!
She used her granddaughter as motivation to get back in shape and embrace a healthy lifestyle. It’s never too late to do so and as a result, she’s improved her health. Furthermore, she gives her granddaughter a chance to increase her activity levels that will hopefully pay long-term dividends.
Break the Tradition
It’s easy to say, “Oh, well she’s with grandma” to spoil your grandchildren with candy and other treats, or let them sit in your arms and watch television. But it’s also important to think of their future. And no, it’s not your sole responsibility to raise a grandchild, but you can still provide them with valuable examples and information.
Encourage your grandchildren to get active. If they play a sport, try to make the effort to go watch their games. Perhaps put a basketball hoop on your property or have outdoor games for them to play when they come over. Offer them healthy snacks, too. After all, wouldn’t you like to protect them from preventable conditions, like heart disease and diabetes?
Source for Today’s Article:
“Young heart health linked to better overall health in later years,” American Heart Association web site, November 16, 2014; http://blog.heart.org/young-heart-health-linked-better-overall-health-later-years/.