Just like our other muscles, your heart needs to be exercised to work at its full potential. Being active is an important factor in maintaining cardiovascular wellbeing – it can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Did you know that achieving the recommended physical activity targets can reduce your mortality by up to 50%?

How Can Exercise Help Our Heart? When you work to keep your heart fit and healthy, it makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body. The physical activity could help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering your blood pressure, increasing your ‘good’ cholesterol levels, and helping you maintain a healthy weight. In fact, 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (doing something that has you getting warmer and breathing faster, but not out of breath) per week can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 30%.

It’s never too late to begin exercising and getting fit is possible at any age – it can be part of your day-to-day routine. Try to get into a regular habit of both physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving (such as cleaning, walking the dog, taking the stairs), whereas exercise is more structured and aims to improve your fitness levels (think of cycling, swimming, and fitness classes). 

Evergreen’s Top Exercise Tips: Drink plenty of water and try to always stay hydrated. Avoid heavy meals right before you exercise – even if you aren’t trying to ‘bulk up’ you can incorporate protein shakes to encourage proper recovery, allowing you to maintain your routine. 

Keep track of your progress, go slow, and although it can be great to push yourself, don’t push past your limits. Why not try the popular couch to 5k plans? You can join us at Evergreen at the 5th Annual Croí Galway Night Run on Friday October 11th – for more information see: croi.ie/nightrun

Heart Healthy Foods: A great place to start supporting heart health through the diet is by focusing on increasing Omega 3! It has been found to improve numerous heart disease risk factors. It may even reduce triglycerides and improve blood circulation, as well as being shown to increase HDL “good” cholesterol – thereby helping to reduce cholesterol levels as HDL removes bad cholesterol from the body. 

Oily fish contains Omega 3, as does flax seed, chia seed, and hemp seeds.

What Should Be Increased? With each meal of the day, try your best to incorporate vegetables – this means breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Green leaves like spinach and rocket are ideal, as are tomatoes and peppers. When you’re craving something sweet, try to opt for fruit instead. Raspberries are super, as they contain antioxidants and are full of fibre which could help lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. 

Switch to wholegrains where possible, and enjoy those good fats! Good fats are so important, and you can enjoy avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, fish oil, olives and even eggs in moderation. 

What Should Be Reduced? The main things to reduce are dairy, and red meat. These can of course still be enjoyed in moderation, especially in the correct form. Greek yoghurt and parmesan cheese can be enjoyed with appropriate portion control, as can meat in small servings. Ideally, meat would be added to a vegetable rich meal, such as stir fires or salads. 

Evergreen’s Top Tips: If you are struggling to get an adequate amount of Omega 3, there are several high quality supplements available. You can also use Zerochol supplements to support you while you improve your diet over time. 

Try to always stay hydrated – water is the ideal drink, and you can change it up by introducing sliced lemons, limes, cucumber, mint… the list goes on!