With world heart day on September 29th, we thought that we would make the whole month of September about heart health and the cardiovascular system.
There has been much in the news about sudden cardiac deaths (heart attacks) over the last few months and with growing concern over the general health of even teens with regards to their heart health we decided to take a closer look at the problem.
Many people are blaming the recent lockdown due to Covid as the reason for the overall decline in heart health, but evidence suggest this is a problem that has been brewing for time now.
It’s no secret what the main factors for this are. The first being overall inactivity. This is now and across the board problem of all age groups. As we see a continued increase in office-based work where people sit at a desk for hours end is a contributing factor, movement is vital when maintaining a good cardiovascular system. The awareness of this among office workers to be active through is growing but can still be hard achieve through the working day. Also, children and adolescents spend more time sitting around than previous generations, mostly due to smart phone technology, computers, and the choices available on TV and this perpetuates the problem.
Without movement there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood, that means the heart must work harder to keep you alive and there is no stimulus for the heart to get stronger, it is a muscle after all, and like all muscles exercise makes the heart stronger.
The next biggest factor is diet. Convenience food, take aways and the limitless number of sugary drinks and snacks are a problem for both young and old. It’s funny because when we investigate this problem, we still find a lot of people in the plant-based diet group consume plenty of pre-prepared/convenience and junk food which is high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying plant based isn’t a healthy way to go, but like everything, more information needs to be readily available otherwise those starting plant based have not actually improved their diet.
Age and genetics will also play a part in the health the cardiovascular system but eating healthy and keeping on the move will help to reduce problems.
And it’s not all about spending hours in the gym getting ripped and buff, a simple brisk 15 minute gets the heart beating. A study conducted over the course of 12 years determined that walking just 15 minutes every day reduced the rate of mortality by a staggering 22%. A 2016 study showed that if obese children walk for 45 minutes a day for 5 days a week over just a six-week period lung capacity increases.
A walk outside doesn’t have to be a route march either, speeding up and then slowing for a bit can improve fitness more than maintaining a continual speed. Walking benefits mental health as well as physical by decreasing stress, reducing feelings of depression, and improving overall mood.
If you would like to get involved with world heart day, please follow the link to the world heart foundation where all the information and resources you need are available.