World Heart Day activities this Sunday

WORLD HEART Day is being commemorated on Sunday, September 24, with a range of activities across the Algarve, including walks, exercise classes and free health checks.

In Portimão, the general public is invited to take part in a morning of physical exercise down at the riverfront, between 10am and noon on Sunday. There will be stretching exercises and the opportunity to take part in a walk, which will be followed by a relaxation class.

In addition to these activities, there will be a team of nurses on hand to measure your blood pressure, check your weight and carry out a body mass evaluation.

The event is organised by Portimão Câmara in conjunction with the Federação Portuguesa de Cardiologia and the Instituto de Desporto de Portugal, the Portuguese Cardiology Federation and the Sports Institute of Portugal.

In Castro Marim the council is organising a 3.5km walk, taking place between 10am and noon. Walkers need to congregate at the Pavilhão Municipal at 9.30am. At the end of the walk, the aim is to get as many people together as possible to form a giant heart.

To take part in this event, you must pre-register by calling Jorge Neves on 281 510 749 at the Pavilhão Municipal or Nélia Matias on 281 510 740 at Castro Marim Câmara. Participants will be offered a free T-shirt, fruit and water.

Finally, Tavira council is organising a walk that will get underway at 9am. The walkers will set off from Tavira’s Praça da República, crossing the Ponte das Forças Armadas in the direction of supermarket Pingo Doce. Then, it is on to the Balsense roundabout, and along Rua de Vale Caranguejo and finishing at the beach alongside the Hotel Vila Galé Albacora.

The same route is then followed in reverse so that the walkers will finish at the starting point at Praça da República. There’s no need to register prior to the event, just turn up and join in.

A healthy heart is vital for living life to the full, regardless of age or gender. Controlling the major cardiovascular risk factors, by choosing a healthy diet, being physically active and by not smoking can prevent heart attacks and strokes and may help the heart to age more slowly.

That’s why this year’s World Heart Day, under the theme “How Young is Your Heart?” is encouraging people around the world to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle to help maintain a young heart for life.

“Heart disease and stroke is the world’s largest killer, claiming 17.5 million lives a year. Eighty per cent of these deaths are from populations in low and middle income countries, many among people of working age” said Professor Sidney Smith, University of North Carolina and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the World Heart Federation.

Physical activity is vitally important to maintain a healthy heart. Running for one hour or more each week could reduce the risk of heart disease by 42 per cent.

A 30 minute brisk walk every day has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease by around 18 per cent and stroke by around 11 per cent. Commuting to work by foot is a practical way of achieving this level of physical activity.

Physical inactivity increases the risk of obesity and being overweight, diabetes and hypertension, which make the heart age much more quickly. The heart needs regular exercise to keep it pumping blood efficiently with every heart beat.

Regular activity and its impact on associated risk factors helps to slow down the narrowing of the arteries to the heart and brain, encourages the body to use excess stored fat, can help to reduce high blood pressure, improves good cholesterol levels (HDL cholesterol) and maintains normal blood glucose levels.

“Controlling major risk factors can prevent heart disease and stroke and thereby keep the heart healthy,” says Dr Sania Nishtar, chair of the Foundations’ Advisory Board, World Heart Federation.

“The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle. By asking everyone to think about the age of their hearts on World Heart Day we’re encouraging the world’s population to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.”