The American Heart Association Encourages Healthy Family Lifestyles at the Grand Rapids Heart Ball

By Cindy Bouma

Kids are full of energy in and out of school. Do you know how many minutes of activity your child should be getting every day?

  • Thirty minutes
  • Forty-five minutes
  • Sixty minutes

Answer: The American Heart Association recommends that adults get thirty minutes of physical activity most days; and that children ages 6-17 years old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic. Children 3-5 years old should be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.

Only about 1-in-5 adults and teens get enough exercise to maintain good health. Being more active can help all people think, feel and sleep better and perform daily tasks. And if you’re sedentary, sitting less is a great place to start.

While an hour each day might sound like a large chunk of time, there are many ways to incorporate activity into your family’s routine. It all adds up.

Here are some ideas:

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Schedule a time each day for an outdoor activity with your children. The weather is changing for the better. Hike a local nature trail or ride a bicycle path. This might include following the Riverwalk through downtown Grand Rapids. 

Join a Team

Encourage children to join school or club sports teams. Many baseball and soccer leagues in West Michigan are still accepting players. 

Schedule Family Playtime

Take a walk or play a family game of tag after dinner each night. Choose activities that require movement, such as bowling, catch or miniature golf. You may even have a dance contest in your own family room. Shoot hoops at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. 

Choose Toys Wisely

Give children toys that encourage physical activity, such as balls, kites, skateboards and jump ropes. Give them a frisbee that you can enjoy on the shore at Collins Park on the banks of Reeds Lake. 

Limit Screen Time

Experts warn that one to two hours of screen time a day should be the limit for children, but some are logging more than double that amount. Set boundaries, keep the television and electronic media out of your child’s bedroom and limit computer usage to school projects.

Plant a Garden

Caring for plants gives your children a reason to get outside each day. Learning how to grow a garden teaches the food system while sampling the harvest encourages healthy eating habits. Visit the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market for inspiration. 

Chip in with Chores 

Team up to take care of your lawn and do other home-maintenance projects as a family. In the end, your home will be better off and so will your family’s health.

“We are working on building the next generation of healthy hearts in West Michigan,” said Jeanne LaSargeBono, executive director of the American Heart Association (AHA) in Grand Rapids. “We’re working with our school systems and families to let them know that playtime and physical activity is important for our youngest residents.” 

This message is amplified with the efforts the association is placing into other area coalitions like the Get Real Campaign with Kent County Health Improvement Plan.

“If you take time to model healthy behaviors you are establishing healthy habits that will follow them their entire life,” said LaSargeBono. “Active kids learn better. When kids are active, they focus more, think more clearly, react to stress more calmly, and perform and behave better in class.”

This month, the AHA hosts its annual Grand Rapids Heart Ball. The theme this year will is “Play it Forward,” and guests are encouraged to bring new sports equipment that will be donated after the event to Grand Rapids Public Schools after-school programs. Additionally, the AHA will be raising funds for
Hands-Only CPR Training Kits for area schools. This effort helps ensure that our community is training the next generation of lifesavers. Guests will have a ball that night with a silent auction, dinner and inspirational speakers highlighting the lifesaving mission of the AHA.

Tickets are still available by visiting heart.org/GrandrapidsHeartBall.

What: Grand Rapids Heart Ball

When: April, 26; cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m.; ballroom opens at 7:30 p.m.; dinner and programming begins at 8 p.m.

Where: 20 Monroe Live, 11 Ottawa NW

Cost: $250

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