Keep your ticker ticking

It’s always a little bit sad to see the silly season come to an end. After a month of parties, holidays, presents and all the stuff you just know is not good for you, it’s sometimes understandably difficult to get back into the swing of things.

One of the great travesties of life is that watching sport doesn’t make you fit and anything that tastes really fattening probably is.

That said and done it’s time to face the music and take some extra care when it comes to your heart and your health.

Marina Norris, co-ordinator of physical activity for The Heart Foundation, says that while overindulging at Christmas is a common complaint, it’s time to get back on track and be heart healthy in 2001.

According to Ms Norris, there are four key steps you should try to stick to if you want your ticker to keep on ticking (and they sound mysteriously similar to many a New Year’s resolution list).

Be a non-smoker, eat low-fat foods, keep an eye on your blood pressure and be physically active.

There’s never a better time to give up the ciggies than at the beginning of the year and Ms Norris points out that perseverance may well be the ticket.

“Many people attempt to quit several times before they are able to give-up,” she said.

“Keep trying. There is no ‘safe level’ of smoking.”

While recent research has justified many a glass of red over New Year, it’s important to remember that there are only so many bottles of Penfolds you can attribute to anti-oxidants.

“There are certain chemicals in red wine that do improve your heart health, but you should always try and have two drinks or less each day,” Ms Norris said.

Likewise exercise is also something that needs to be approached in moderation. Plunging yourself into heavy exercise after a period of inactivity could do you more harm than good, especially if you’re over 40.

“The last thing you should do after putting on weight is go into a panic and say ‘I’ve got to race out and get fit in a week’,” she said.

“It actually takes you six weeks to build up the fitness.

“We would just prefer that everyone started out slowly.

“Walking is just the best thing. If you try and build up your speed and the distance your going.”

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