High blood pressure is no longer a disease of the elderly. Children and young adults are becoming more and more a part of this potentially deadly problem. Unfortunately, not all of them are being tested for it.
Why is it such a problem? There are three factors that are leading to this threat to our children. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that these factors play into problems for older people.
Poor Diet: A constant diet of fast food and candy isn’t healthy. It packs on the pounds, plus the salt and fat cause problems with the circulatory system. If you read the nutrition information on your favorite fast food meal, you may decide not to order it again.
Lack of Exercise: It’s not just an adult problem. Kids don’t get enough exercise either. In fact, many schools are cutting physical education classes. This is usually for economic reasons. First, they have to pay the teachers and coaches that conduct the classes. On top of that, they have to have expensive insurance in case a student is injured and the family sues the school.
Sitting too much: This is bad for a lot of reasons. Even if your child does exercise at school, constantly sitting can cause your child’s blood pressure to go up. A recent study shows that this is true no matter the weight of the child. If your child is at a healthy weight, sitting too much can still cause this problem.
Ok, so now we see the problem. What’s the solution? It will take work, both on the part of parents and children.
Eat Right: I spend four to six hours every day sitting at a computer, writing. When I’m done, particularly when the weather is hot, about the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. I know how it feels. There is a solution, if you are willing to put in the time.
When I do cook, I make more than we will eat that day. Then I put the leftovers in a freezer proof bowl, label, date and stick it in the freezer. When I don’t feel like cooking, all I have to do is haul out whatever dish we want and warm it up in the microwave. One healthy dinner in fifteen minutes or less.
Exercise: As a child, we didn’t have a lot of the electronic gadgets now available. After dinner and before bedtime, we went outside to play. We did that on the weekends and during the summer, too. We got a lot of exercise without even knowing it.
Now, the lure of hundreds of cable channels, computers, game equipment and cell phones has us caught. It’s going to be difficult, but we need to go play. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Set up three afternoons a week with at least one hour away from any electronic gadget. Take the kids and go for a hike. Get out the volleyball or badminton net and play. Find something you enjoy as a family that involves movement. This will encourage the kids, bring your family closer together and help keep bp numbers down.
Sitting: This is a hard one to work around. Children sit most of the day in school. After school, they come home and sit more while they do their homework. When that’s done, they sit again to watch television or do something else equally sedentary.
It doesn’t help that we do the same thing. Many of us sit all day at work, then come home and sit all evening. It’s not healthy for either child or adult. In fact, it’s worse for adults because it puts us in jeopardy of blood clots.
The answer goes back to exercise. Like children, even if you are at a healthy weight, you need to get moving. It will make you feel better and improve your health.
We don’t have to endure this problem. The change has to come from us, but if we can make the change it will be good for us, our children and (believe it or not) our country