Embrace Heart Health with a 5-2-1-0 Valentine’s Day
By Mary Kathryn Poole, MPH, program director of Let’s Move Pittsburgh
Chocolate. Heart candies. Marshmallows. And more chocolate. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching and sweet treats are slowly making their way into our homes, schools, and workplaces. It can be a challenging week for those who have given up desserts for their New Year’s resolution, or for families who are trying to practice a healthy lifestyle. However, there are plenty of ways to make your Valentine’s Day celebration a bit healthier while still treating yourself and having fun — all in moderation. In honor of our 5-2-1-0 initiative, here are some ideas for having a Valentine’s Day with your kids that meets the recommendations of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables, less than 2 hours of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks and more water — every day!
+ 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day
- Jazz up your veggies by slicing them into hearts. See this example using carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and green peppers. Check out other heart-healthy foods to eat on Valentine’s Day.
- Slice your favorite fruits and stack them into the shape of a large heart.
- Build a healthy Valentine’s Day yogurt parfait with low-fat Greek yogurt and red fruits like strawberries, raspberries, or pomegranate. Rotate layers of yogurt and fruit, and top off the dish with heart-shaped strawberries.
- Bonus tip: Your Valentine’s Day does not have to be chocolate free, but for a healthier alternative, choose dark chocolate. Dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao can be good for the heart when consumed in moderation.
+ 2 hours or less of recreational screen time every day
- Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the ones you love by making it a screen-free day. Create a Valentine’s Day activity bag filled with heart-shaped pieces of construction paper. On each heart, write a screen-free activity that the family can participate in together. Each hour, have your kids pick an activity from the bag. This will keep everyone engaged throughout the day. Some ideas for activities include board games, making Valentine’s Day cards for friends and loved ones, painting, relay races, charades, and Valentine’s arts and crafts.
- Find some simple ideas for Valentine’s Day arts and crafts here. For the activities that require candy, use fruit, veggies, or unsalted trail mix as healthier options. Our favorite is activity No. 11!
- As always, check out Kidsburgh and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative for plenty of kid-friendly events this February.
+ 1 hour of more of physical activity every day
- Make Valentine’s Day an opportunity to teach your kids how to and why to increase their heart rates. Have them measure their resting heart rates, then complete jumping jacks or another physical activity, and take their heart rates again. Compare the two readings and talk about the importance of being physically active.
- Add a competitive edge to your family’s Valentine’s Day with a red or pink balloon race. Have everyone line up with a red or pink balloon in between their knees. On the count of three, have everyone race to the finish line without dropping the balloon. If the balloon falls out, return to the starting point and begin again. Give the winner a non-food reward like a heart sticker, puzzle, yo-yo, slinky, or heart-shaped medal.
+ 0 sugary drinks and more water every day
-Set up a pink and red themed water station in your kitchen with raspberries, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, watermelon, red apples, ruby red grapefruit, and cherries. Have your kids design their own fruit-infused water. Place pink and red silly straws at the end of the station, and drink up!
-Purchase a heart-shaped ice cube mold and let your kids add them to their water throughout the day.
This article is an effort of Let’s Move Pittsburgh’s 5-2-1-0 initiative to help kids in Southwestern Pennsylvania lead healthy lives by practicing 5-2-1-0 habits every day. Learn more here.
Let’s Move Pittsburgh, a program of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, is a collaborative dedicated to improving children’s health and wellness in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Connect with Let’s Move Pittsburgh by visiting letsmovepittsburgh.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.