The calendar has officially flipped to February, which means it’s time to chat about the heart – and we don’t mean the chocolate kind. It’s Heart Month in Canada, the perfect opportunity to bring some attention and awareness to the importance of heart health and what you can do to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Far too many Canadians are feeling the impacts of not moving enough, with research showing higher rates of cardiovascular events and mortality among individuals with low levels of physical activity and fitness.
What does the science tell us?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to know that heart disease is a very serious issue affecting millions of Canadians every single day. Did you know that there are nearly 1.6 million Canadians currently living with heart disease or stroke? Or that every five minutes someone in Canada loses their life to heart disease and stroke?
Eighty per cent of premature heart disease and stroke are preventable, especially by making movement a part of your everyday. People who are more active and less sedentary see drastically reduced risk of the following chronic heart-related health conditions:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
Bottom line: you need to move to support your heart, it really is that simple. The trick is how? How do you make sure you are getting the right amount and type of physical activity to properly support heart health?
All movement counts, from dancing to housework, and all those small instances of movement can really add up and work to keep you happy and healthy in both body and mind. Just be sure to mix in some higher intensity activity to get even more health benefits!
Adults over the age of 18 need 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (the type of activity that gets you a little sweaty and breathing a bit hard) a week. Moderate-to-vigorous activity can take on so many forms, so don’t stress it if you can’t hop on a bike or strap on a set of skis.
Any one of the following activities are easy-to-try and accessible no matter where you live or where you are at on your physical activity journey. Try even one or two of them a couple times a week and see if you can push it to three or four as you get more comfortable. When it comes to getting active, prioritizing and scheduling is really important. If you don’t set aside the time, you will always find a reason to push it off – don’t.
Remember the above stats and the impact of heart disease and use that as motivation to move. Here’s how:
- Active transportation – Heading out for some groceries or an appointment? If you can, try walking or wheeling to get there. Or, if you have to drive, try parking in the spot furthest from the entrance and get in some active minutes that way, every little bit counts toward a healthy heart!
- Groove to the beat – No matter where you live, you can always throw on your top tunes and clock some physical activity. Have a dance competition and see who has the best moves.
- “Home is Where your Heart Pumps” challenge – Head over to our social channels or download our free app to participate in the upcoming seven-day challenge of heart-pumping fitness breaks. The challenge kicks-off Monday February 8th.
- Active cleaning – Say what? You heard us right. Mopping, sweeping, dusting, you name it, it all can be active. Depending on how hard you're scrubbing, you are likely already breathing hard and dripping some sweat, and you didn’t even need an online class or fancy workout gear.
- Outdoor work – Shoveling, yard work, or even just taking out the garbage and recycling can all add up to improved heart health. Help someone with their outdoor tasks and earn even more active minutes, your ticker (and neighbour!) will thank you.
There is no getting around the fact that heart disease is a growing concern not just for Canadians but for people across the globe. But with the right know-how and motivation, you can drastically reduce your risk for heart-related disease by moving your body every single day – even if in small doses to start.
Posted with permission from ParticipACTION. Read more of their blogs here.