Have the heart to walk

There’s a great difference between exercising so you can fit into the jeans that always used to look great, or that new dress you just know will look great, and exercising for health.

Often forgotten when searching for the perfect body (or something even vaguely resembling it), is fitness for the heart.

It seems to be a general consensus that people under the age of 35 don’t consider the heath of their heart as a primary factor in exercise.

The Heart Foundation has a new campaign designed to reduce at least one of the major risk factors for the average Australian – a lack of exercise.

November 3 will mark the first Walk to Work Day.

According to the WA chief executive of the Heart Foundation, Maurice Swanson, 10 per cent of car trips are to destinations that would be just a 12-minute walk away.

It’s these “little” car trips that the Heart Foundation is targeting.

Its research indicates that if the average person replaced every eighth replaceable car trip (up to 2km and no objective reason to walk) by walking, they would increase their average yearly walking trips by 11 per cent.

Mr Swanson claims that people accumulating half an hour of walking each day could halve their chances of heart attack.

Although people seem more aware of the importance of exercise, one of the latest publications on Australia’s health, Changes in Australia’s Disease Profile, suggests that broadly operating effects such as market-led dietary change were more responsible than individual efforts to alter lifestyle, in decreasing the heart-related death rate.

It would seem that although we have reduced risk factors like saturated fat, blood pressure and smoking, there has been little change in the rate of our physical activity and as a nation and we are becoming increasingly over-weight.

Medical factors such as emergency medical care and surgical treatment have pushed death rates down more so than regular exercise.

The same publication suggests that a lot of cardiovascular disease is still preventable. In fact it has been estimated that 80 per cent of Australian adults have one modifiable cardiovascular risk factor, and 10 per cent have more than three risk factors.

The prime risk factors are physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure and poor diet (ie saturated fat and salt).

Although the death rates attributed to cardiovascular causes has dropped dramatically since its peak in the late 1960s, a drop of about 66 per cent in the last three decades, the battle is far from over.

Walking is probably one of the easiest, most-pain free ways to reduce a very significant risk factor for heart disease candidate.

If you would like to become one of these heart smart walkers call the Heart Foundation.

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