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News - 27th September 2019

Exercise and your heart health

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Did you know seven million people are living with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the UK? Regular exercise such as running, swimming or cycling, or a combination, can help to keep your heart and circulatory system healthy1.

 

Whether you have a healthy heart, or have been diagnosed with a specific condition, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your heart health. The British Heart Foundation states that fitness trackers are beneficial because they can encourage you to get more active, given that they monitor the activity2.

 

Fitness watches can also monitor your heart rate, the number of steps you take and the distance you cover. However, BHF also advise, “if a medical professional has advised you to keep track of your heart rate, talk to your doctor to make sure you choose a suitable device.”

 

Many experts continue to suggest that if you do monitor your heart rate on your fitness watch, you should also check your pulse the old-fashioned way — on your wrist — and use your own information alongside your device’s data to pinpoint anything that seems irregular for you.

 

It’s not just a lack of activity in general that puts us in danger but staying sedentary. Experts advise a break from your chair every 30 minutes, here’s some tips on getting some extra movement in:

  • Walk the long way around to get a drink
  • Choose walking meetings if you don’t need to take notes
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
  • Conference call? Use a hands-free set and pace

 

If you can, try to walk part of your commute, suggests Nicola Addison, personal trainer and wellbeing expert: “Simply getting off a couple of bus or tube stops before you normally would will drastically increase your total number of steps per day. Walking promotes healthy muscles and joints.” A six-year study that looked at 33,060 runners and 15,945 walkers found that walking can lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running3, so even if you can’t make your weekly parkrun – getting those steps in is important!

 

A 2018 study of 100 people in their 60s found that any form of exercise reduces the risk of heart problems4. Not only this, but the study also found that the right amount of exercise at the right time in your life could slow down the ageing of the heart and blood vessels, so you really can start to look after your heart at any age!

 

While exercise is important for heart health, you can’t forget about food. Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director of Healthspan, says “Fish is often thought of as brain food, but it has beneficial effects for the heart, too. Fish helps to reduce inflammation, blood stickiness and blood pressure, and helps to keep your body’s store of triglyceride fat (the fat used for energy) moving through your blood stream. The long-chain omega 3 fish oils, DHA and EPA, also have a protective effect against irregular heart rhythms, especially in hearts receiving a poor blood supply5.”

 

But if you don’t like eating fish, omega 3 fish oil supplements are a good alternative, try Healthspan Super Strength Omega 3 1,200mg (60 capsules, £7.95, healthspan.co.uk) or Elite Veg-Omega 3 1,000mg (60 capsules, £24.99, healthspanelite.co.uk) if you’re vegetarian. Data from 11 trials, involving more than 15,000 people with a history of heart disease showed those who took omega 3 supplements had a 25% lesser risk of a heart attack, and a 32% lower-risk of a fatal cardiac event6.

 

By following some of these steps, keeping your heart in tip-top shape is easier than you think! Remember to consult with your health practitioner before making any changes to your healthcare plan.

 

References

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/
  2. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/ask-the-experts/fitness-trackers
  3. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878
  4. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1113/JP275301?referrer_access_token=rQxuKk011K2Y-Ni_2jjB7GRZV2XREp6AUrIcR3NHBfWx5he9BZ_o4wK7PLc4ExlfPrE-OcVX4HlWSV07pXrThbwd9Q5Rva7jjSCy_snu-E0Ab0ryzathFJpei-olBhzF&
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10557-008-6151-6
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23958480

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