The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association want kids to stay heart-healthy this summer.

Robbinsville, NJ, July 24, 2014—School is out and that means kids are home for summer.  It’s important to keep kids active and eating right all summer long to prevent risk factors, such as obesity and poor diet, which can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke, the nation’s top killers.  One in three children and teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese.  The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommend children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to stay healthy.

“Physical activity is extremely important for kids’ health,” states Len Saunders, author of Keeping Kids Fit and spokesperson for the American Heart Association from Montville, NJ.  “Not only does it support heart health, but also promotes better sleep, sharper brain function and improved mood, as well as coordination and athletic performance.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to motivate kids to be physically active, but getting in those sixty minutes a day doesn’t have to feel like exercise.  Playing outside in the neighborhood counts as physical activity, so dust off those old roller blades or take out the basketball.  Plan active vacations by going for long walks or hikes to explore new places, rent bicycles to get around town or have fun on the water with kayaks or canoes. For rainy days, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommend limiting TV, video game and computer time to less than two hours per day.  Instead, check off your chore list by dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes and doing laundry, which all burn calories.

“Along with an active lifestyle, it’s important to teach kids about a healthy, balanced diet,” continues Saunders.  “Teaching kids about good nutrition from a young age can help prepare them for a lifetime of healthy choices.”

This summer, be mindful of the snacks you have available for your family.  Instead of high-calorie snacks and sugar-sweetened beverages, keep these heart-healthy options on-hand:

  • Apples, bananas, grapes and other fresh fruit
  • Carrot sticks, celery sticks, green peppers and other fresh veggies
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt and cheese
  • Fat-free milk
  • Unsweetened juices
  • Low-sodium vegetable or tomato juice
  • Water
  • Unsalted rice cakes
  • Whole-grain fat-free or low-fat crackers
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Canned fruit in their own juices (no sugar added)

These options will help refuel after playtime without too much sodium, added sugar, calories or fat.  For more summer activities and healthy choices for kids, visit  www.heart.org/healthierkids.