Happy people looking after their heart health.
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RedFeb – Heart Research Month

In the month of February, the Arriba Group is raising awareness for Heart Research Month as part of RedFeb. To put it into context of the scale of the issue of heart disease, 1.2 million Australian’s are affected by heart disease, with 170 suffering heart attacks each day and 50 Australians killed by it every day.

Some of the most effective tools for good heart health are being physically active and eating a balanced diet, whereby engaging in regular exercise, and making good food choices is proven to reduce the risk of heart disease.

We spoke to Daniel Zeina, an exercise physiologist, on ways you can improve your heart health and helpful hints to be your best self.

Do you have any tips to improve heart health?

“There are a variety of ways to improve heart health, and it’s important to incorporate these tricks and tips into our lifestyles in order to have a healthy heart and body and ensure you’re looking after yourself. Here are some suggestions:

Having regular health checks

Knowing your results and numbers so you can monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Physical activity

Your heart is a muscle, and when you use that muscle by exercising, it will strengthen. In addition, by losing weight, you are reducing the strain on your body, whereby being overweight is a major contributor to heart disease.

Balanced diet

Ensuring you have a well balance diet that is rich in wholegrains, fibre, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats, and low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar can help in reducing the risk of heart disease. This doesn’t mean you can’t have what you enjoy but making better choices here and there will contribute to better heart health. One of my favourite treats that is good for heart health is dark chocolate, in which the key ingredient cocoa has antioxidants that have been shown to increase good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and improve your blood clotting function.

Looking after your mental health

Reducing stress is key to good mental health, and therefore good heart health. There are more than 1,400 biochemical responses to stress, including a rise in blood pressure and a faster heart rate. If you find it hard to reduce your stress levels, speak with your GP.”

What kind of exercises are good for heart health?

“Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Here are some of my suggestions for training to promote heart health:

Aerobic exercise

It’s ideal to achieve at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise. This can include brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, playing tennis, or even jumping rope. My advice is to choose a form of activity that you enjoy and continue doing it – it doesn’t feel like exercise if you’re having fun! There are many benefits of aerobic exercise, including that it improves circulation which reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

Resistance training

Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition for people who are carrying body fat in particular areas. Resistance training works to reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass, and I suggest doing this at least two non-consecutive days per week as a good rule of thumb. Some examples of resistance training include working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells, or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and chin-ups.“

What advice do you have for people that are concerned about their heart health?

“The best advice is to speak to your GP and request a general health check-up, which includes measuring your weight and Body Mass Index, and other levels including cholesterol and blood pressure. This helps to identify any health problems you may be at risk of developing, and your GP can act accordingly, including referring you to an accredited Exercise Physiologist to assist with the prevention and management of heart disease.

Another piece of advice is that there’s many ways for you to improve your heart health, as stated before, so keep at your exercise regime, try and pick some good food options, reduce any stresses and get health checks regularly. You can do this!”.

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