Kids these days prefer playing video games, sitting countless hours in front of the computer and toying with their smart phones over playing outside and getting some sun and sweat to get their hearts pumping. This unhealthy behavior has also translated into their eating habits, preferring fast food, pizza deliveries, microwavable meals and excessive consumption of junk food and other unhealthy meals. It’s no wonder why obesity and high blood pressure are becoming prevalent in adolescents and even young kids, putting them at high risk for heart diseases when they get older.

That’s why it is important for children, even early on, to have an active and healthy lifestyle. Incorporating this in their daily routine will teach them the importance of nutrition and exercise in order for them to develop and carry on making heart-healthy choices later in life. It’s the responsibility of parents and even teachers to guide youngsters and enforce good health habits.

Habits that are good for children are not much different from those that should be practiced by adults. In fact, a great way for kids to gain healthy routines is through leading by example, meaning parents must be role models in living a healthy lifestyle. When the whole family gets involved, kids will find it easier and fun to make the active and nutritious transition.

Here are 4 tips to get your kids started on their road to heart health:

1. Say no to sodas, sweets, fried and fast food. These foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and sugar while lacking the necessary fiber are the surest ways to obesity and high blood pressure leading to heart disease. Allowing your kids to have them as treats once in a while is alright as long as you don’t regularly stock them in your fridge. Instead, have some tasty healthier alternatives around.

2. Have a balanced diet with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. A heart-healthy diet is low in cholesterol, sugar, sodium and fat but high in dietary fiber and all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Dairy products in low fat are excellent to have as a good source of calcium.

3. Limit video games, television and non-school-related computer time to only 2 hours a day. Although kids need downtime after school, this sedentary routine does nothing good for their heart health. Instead provide alternatives like enrolling them in karate lessons or encouraging them to try out for the swimming team.

4. Makes sure your kids get to do some physical activity daily. Find out what kind of interests and talents your kids have up their sleeve and encourage them to pursue whatever they may be. If your kids aren’t into sports, find some other activity that can get them to have a daily dose of exercise. You can invite them to join you in your daily jog around the neighborhood, ask them to help you out with some chores around the house or even have them play out on the yard with your canine family member.