Building Heart Health Together: A Call to Action for Canadians

Building heart health together: A call to action for Canadians

(photo courtesy Fitness World)

By Chris Smith, President and CEO of Fitness World

By Chris Smith, President and CEO of Fitness World

Heart health issues cast a long shadow over the lives of Canadians, with heart disease and stroke ranking as the second leading cause of death in the country. A staggering 9 out of 10 Canadians currently carry a risk factor for developing heart disease. The promising news, however, is that with consistent exercise, Canadians can slash their risk of heart disease by more than 30%.

 

As February marks Heart Month in Canada, right now is the perfect time to embark on proactive measures to strengthen our hearts. Here are 3 proven ways Canadians can improve their heart health:

 

Join a Group Fitness Class

Experts recommend at least 75 minutes of high intensity workouts each week. While this might seem daunting, joining group cardio fitness classes like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), CrossFit, and Spin can make this more enjoyable. The camaraderie and motivation within a group setting not only make elevating your heart rate more fun, but also instill a sense of accountability, ensuring you stay committed.

 

Explore New Fitness Equipment

Variety is key to a well-rounded approach to heart health. In addition to cardio, Canadians should engage in at least two sessions per week of resistance or strength training. Resistance training, which strengthens your muscles, including the heart, improves cardiovascular endurance and reduces blood pressure. Importantly, the journey towards heart health should also be enjoyable. Experimenting with different machines introduces variety, preventing workout monotony and ensuring a holistic approach to heart health.

 

Prioritize a Balanced Lifestyle

Achieving optimal heart health extends beyond the gym. “Active recovery” activities, such as walking or yoga, aid in the body’s healing process, promoting better blood circulation and reducing inflammation. Balancing intense workouts with sufficient rest fosters a sustainable and heart-healthy lifestyle. Aim for a total of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise as part of your gym routine.

 

In order for Canada to make any real progress in reducing heart disease and stroke, the focus must be on preventative measures. However, acknowledging potential barriers is vital for meaningful progress. There are time constraints, financial limitations, or lack of access to fitness facilities. We must collectively address these challenges, and governments and workplaces play a pivotal role. Every workplace should be providing health benefits that include group fitness classes or access to gyms; and create intentional workplace policies that encourage regular exercise. Governments should consider making preventative fitness measures tax-free or creating subsidies to ensure free access to fitness classes and gyms for those in need.

 

Heart disease poses a significant threat to Canadians’ well-being. Only through consistent, preventative actions—addressing potential barriers and with government and workplace involvement—can we collectively reduce risk and pave the way for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Chris Smith is the CEO of Fitness World, a B.C.-based gym for everyone with low-cost, high-value memberships made to get people moving. Visit fitnessworld.ca to learn more.

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