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Stay on top of your heart health during Covid-19

The Gibraltar Cardiac Association is raising awareness as part of Heart Month this February. In this article the Association recommends some easy tips to take care of your heart.

Keeping physically active works wonders for your heart and your overall health in many ways. During the Covid19 pandemic it is especially important to keep active and to cut down on the time sitting on the sofa whenever possible.
Exercise lowers blood pressure and improves blood cholesterol, which directly impacts the condition of your arteries. It reduces the risk of diabetes one of the leading causes of heart disease, and along with a heart-healthy diet, exercise makes it much easier to maintain a healthy weight.
There are plenty of studies that show exercise is as powerful as medication for many conditions and, even during the pandemic Exercise can be as easy as ABC…..

A. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week:

Getting more exercise is one of the best things you can do for a healthy heart. Ideally you should exercise most days of the week – that could be 30 minutes five days a week for example.
But your heart also benefits from shorter bursts of activity, say 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch, with a goal of accumulating 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise.
The recommendation to exercise 150 minutes per week is the minimum, and considered safe for most people, but it’s simply a guide: don’t expect to do it all the first month or you’ll become frustrated and quit. Slow but steady will take you far – by building up gradually you’re more likely to reach the goal of making exercise a lifelong habit.

B. Before you start, ask your doctor.

Most healthy people can begin a moderate intensity exercise programme with medical clearance. However, if you have a history of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer, among other conditions, you should speak to your doctor first to be sure that you are cleared for exercise. Even if you have a medical history or are at risk for health problems, most people will still be able to do some exercise. The key is making the level of exercise appropriate for your health but also that it makes you work hard enough to gain the benefits of activity.

C. Chart your efforts

Pay attention to your body as you work out. You should notice your heart rate increases a little, you start to feel a bit warmer and you feel a little more out of breath, but there should be no chest pain or pressure and no extreme shortness of breath. If there is, stop immediately and tell your doctor what you experienced.
Tracking your progress over time helps too – you can wear a tracking device or keep an exercise log. This will motivate you and encourage you to keep up the excellent results.

D. Do different types of exercise:

Exercise guidelines not only recommend aerobic type exercise like brisk walking, jogging and cycling which improves the heart and circulation, but also muscle strengthening activities like resistance training too. Resistance exercise improves muscle and bone strength.
In addition, flexibility exercise (stretching and balance) helps to avoid injuries and falls and will improve your ability to manage day to day activities better and more safely.

E. Exercise in ways you love:

Find ways to exercise that you enjoy – you don’t have to join a gym to move more. Many people find walking is a pleasure, and while most inactive people only walk around 2500 to 3000 steps in a day, gradually building up to 10,000 steps a day can have appositive impact on your heart health.
Aim to build up by 500 steps a week to reach the 10,000 target and remember everyday things like doing chores, walking the dog and climbing stairs count too
For more information on recommended ways to exercise which are suitable during the Covid19 pandemic please see the following websites:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/gym-free-workouts/

https://www.csp.org.uk/public-patient/keeping-active-healthy/love-activity-hate-exercise-campaign/being-active-long-term-4

Remember please follow the latest GHA and Government Guidance and Advice to exercise safely during the Covid19 Pandemic: wear a facemask when advised; wash your hands carefully and keep a safe distance from others.

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