NATIONAL HEART MONTH
The first of February signifies the start of National Heart Month, an initiative developed by the British Heart Foundation to bring awareness to the variety of heart conditions that around 7.6 million Brits are living with. Heart and circulatory diseases cause over a quarter of all deaths in the UK – an average of one every three minutes. The good news is that many key cardiovascular risk factors are within our control, and can be managed and modified by simple lifestyle changes.
The scientific literature consistently shows that regular physical activity can aid both the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), with about 1/5th of cases of coronary heart disease in the UK being attributed to physical activity. Increased physical activity helps to reduce your overall risk of CVD and protect your heart, as well as reducing your risk of further heart problems and aid recovery if you have previously experienced a heart problem. Many cardiovascular risk factors can be minimised through regular activity, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
Essentially, this works because engaging in physical activity requires your heart to work harder in order to pump blood around your body to the working muscles. As with any other muscle in the body, increasing the pressure on the heart helps it to adapt to this increased demand and ultimately become stronger. Participating in physical activity can also make everyday activities easier following a heart attack, which often results in a reduction in exercise capacity, by enhancing your body’s ability to take in and utilise oxygen. Not only can physical activity gradually build up this capacity, strength and stamina, but can also help you to regain confidence in your body and improve feelings of wellbeing too.
Whilst the current European Society of Cardiology Guidelines for the prevention of CVD recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week for healthy individuals, the British Heart Foundation suggests that those with a heart condition should be more cautious. They recommend avoiding more strenuous activities that cause breath-holding or straining since these can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure and strain the heart. Alternatively, recent research published in PLOS Medicine identified that not only is physical activity associated with a lower risk of CVD, but that the greatest benefit of this is seen for individuals who are active at more moderate and vigorous intensities.
However, this type of moderate to vigorous intensity activity may not necessarily be something you feel is accessible to you, and so it’s important to remember that all movement is valuable for your health – doing something is always better than doing nothing! The best type of activity for your heart health is aerobic activity and this can be readily incorporated into your day-to-day routine without you even realising. Examples of aerobic activity could include walking to the shops instead of driving, dancing in your kitchen, or doing some gardening. Essentially, the important thing is finding movements that you enjoy in order to sustain your activity and continuously benefit your heart health.
At KiActiv®, we can help you find this value in your everyday activity, enabling you to move more, feel better and benefit your health all at the same time. We appreciate that traditional vigorous exercise isn’t for everyone, and are here to support you in finding ways to keep active and look after your heart health that work best for you. Remember, every move you make matters!
The KiActiv® Team