Healthy Living Diet & Exercise


Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. It also increases the risk of stroke and such other major cardiovascular risk factors as obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day


Why is exercise or physical activity important for my child?

  • controlling weight
  • reducing blood pressure
  • raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
  • improved psychological well-being, including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem

How do I promote physical activity in my child?

  • Physical activity should be increased by reducing sedentary time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone).
  • Physical activity should be fun for children and adolescents.
  • Parents should try to be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for activity

Involving the whole family is the best way to promote better eating habits and healthy activities for your children. A whole-family approach simply means that everyone – parents and kids alike – works together as a team to achieve good health and well-being. As with any team, there’s a leader or coach – and that’s you!

  • Lead by example.
  • Start them young
  • Be active together.
  • Cook together.
  • Eat together.

Drive-through dining

To help make drive-through dining a little healthier for your household, consider ordering:

  • grilled — not fried — chicken
  • single burgers instead of double or triple
  • sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, if available
  • mustard instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches and burgers
  • alternatives to fries — veggies, yogurt, plain baked potato with just a little sour cream, or a regular salad with light dressing
  • low-fat milk or water instead of soda or juice
  • fruit instead of sugary desserts

Healthy living choices

  • Grains, recommending that at least half of grains consumed be as whole grains
  • Vegetables, emphasizing dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas
  • Fruits, emphasizing variety and deemphasizing fruit juices
  • Oils, recommending fish, nut, and vegetables sources
  • Milk, a category that includes other dairy products
  • Meat and beans, emphasizing low-fat and lean meats such as fish as well as more beans, peas, nuts, and seeds

There are two other categories:

  • Physical activity, represented by a person climbing steps on the pyramid, with at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day recommended (and in some cases 60 or 90 minutes)
  • Discretionary calories, represented by the uncolored tip of the pyramid, including items such as candy, alcohol, or additional food from any other group.

You can access your child’s food requirements by accessing the following website

Calcium and vitamin D requirements

  • toddlers ages 1 to 2 years — 500 milligrams of calcium daily, and Vitamin D 400IU
  • kids ages 4 to 12 years — 800 milligrams calcium, and Vitamin D 400-800IU
  • older children ages 12 and older — 1,300 milligrams calcium, and Vitamin D 1000-2000IU
  • Vitamin D supplementation is important in Northern States, as exposure to sunlight is limited, especially in the winter months, and sunscreen usage.

Healthy Living Diet & Exercise (click here for PDF)