On average, a 3-year-old has 2 pints of blood pumping through his body and his heart beats around 300 million times in one year, according to Discovery Kids. The cardiovascular system is one of the body's most important systems, since it's responsible for keeping your blood circulating. It's beneficial for children to get a healthy start in life so that they have good cardiovascular health into adulthood.
Children's Cardiovascular Systems
Your child's cardiovascular system is made up of her heart, blood and blood vessels. As her heart beats, blood is pumped through these blood vessels and sent throughout her body. This blood carries the nutrients and oxygen that all of her cells need to stay healthy. Her heart likely beats around 60 to 100 times per minute, according to Kids Health. Messages from the body tell her heart when more or less blood is needed. For example, when she is running, her body tells her heart to pump faster to provide her with more oxygen. When she sleeps, her body lets her heart know to slow down.
One of the biggest factors of a healthy heart is weight. Around 1 out of 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese, according to HealthyChildren.org. If your child is overweight now, he's more likely to be overweight when he's an adult. This can lead to a number of health problems, including those that affect the cardiovascular system, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. If your child is one of the more than 9 million kids affected by childhood obesity, in addition to the health risks, he may suffer from low self-esteem and be limited in what physical activities he can do, notes HealthyChildren.org.
Importance of Fitness
Physical fitness can help reduce the chances of your child becoming overweight and can cut her risks for cardiovascular and other diseases. Make regular exercise a part of your entire family's every day life. Regular physical activity works to strengthen your child's cardiovascular system, increase her flexibility, help maintain her weight, reduce stress and can increase her endurance, according to HealthyChildren.org. You can help your child by using the FITT -- frequency, intensity, time and type -- method, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For frequency, encourage your child to be physically active each day. Help your child find a moderately intense activity that makes her sweat and breathe hard, to get her heart pumping. For time, ensure your child is getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, whether that time is broken into smaller chunks or done all at once. Finally, help her find a type of exercise that is fun and something she'll want to keep doing. You could help her find a team sport she likes, sign her up for a dance class, go for daily walks together or enjoy family bike rides.
Heart Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is also important for your child's cardiovascular health, since it can help prevent heart disease and fight obesity, according to HealthyChildren.org. Limit the amount of fat and cholesterol your child consumes by opting for fruits, vegetables, lean red meats, fish, skinless chicken, whole grains and low-fat dairy at meal times. Avoid bringing junk food into your home, skip the fast food joints and be a good example for your child by making good choices yourself. Kids love to snack, so it's important that you keep your kitchen stocked with plenty of healthy snack foods. HealthyChildren.org suggests keeping items like reduced-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers, pretzels, low-fat granola bars, fresh fruits, dried fruit, baked snack chips and microwavable low-fat burritos ready for your child when he's hungry for a snack.
- Kids Health: Heart and Circulatory System
- HealthyChildren.org: Encouraging a Healthy Weight for a Healthy Start
- HealthyChildren.org: A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity, a Road Map to Health
- HealthyChildren.org: The FITT Plan for Physical Activity
- HealthyChildren.org: Promoting Physical Activity as a Way of Life
- HealthyChildren.org: Heart Disease
- HealthyChildren.org: What About Fat and Cholesterol?
- HealthyChildren.org: Cholesterol Levels in Children and Adolescents
- HealthyChildren.org: Eating for Good Health
- HealthyChildren.org: Choosing Healthy Snacks