Getting Your Body Ready for Vigorous Activity
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Risk of Heart Attack from Vigorous Activity
Vigorous activity for people who are not used to it can increase the risk of heart attack. Studies show that mild to moderate activity can decrease the risk of heart disease up to 50%. However, even for someone with few risk factors, vigorous activity (activity that causes you to sweat, breathe heavily and be unable to carry a conversation), can increase your risk of having a heart attack if you are not active on a regular basis.
Who is at risk of having a Heart Attack? or Am I at risk of having a heart attack?
Some risk factors for heart attack are things you have control over. These modifiable risk factors include smoking, physical inactivity, eating foods rich in saturated, hydrogenated and trans fats, stress, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Whenever possible it is wise to try and change these factors to decrease your chances of having a heart attack. Non-modifiable risk factors, or things you have no control over, include age, and a family history of heart disease. Men are also generally at higher risk, however the numbers of women with heart disease is increasing.
How would I know if I am having a heart attack?
The signs and symptoms of a heart attack include sudden discomfort or pain in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, and arm(s) or back, that does not go away with rest. Some people described it as burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure. A person could have difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of indigestion, have cool and clammy skin, experience anxiety and/or deny that they may be experiencing a heart attack. Women may experience pain differently than men; their pain may be more vague.
Signs may be mild or severe. If you or someone you know is having any of these signs, CALL 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Be Physically Active
Ways to Prevent a Heart Attack and Heart Disease
You need to get about 20-30 minutes of vigorous activity at least 4 days a week to stay in good enough shape to be able to be involved in a vigorous or strenuous activity. Doing vigorous activity, like hockey for example, once a week is not enough and will increase your chances of having a heart attack. You can add in 10 minute blocks of activity time. Try brisk walking or biking to and from work, swim in your lunch hour, play a sport year round such as soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter, and remember to stretch regularly. If you haven’t been physically active in a while, or if you are starting something new, make sure you consult your health care provider. With anything new, start slowly, and gradually increase, doing it more often, more vigorously, and for longer periods of time.
Eat A Wide Variety Of Foods
According to Canada’s Food Guide, as part of balanced eating, we need to enjoy a variety of foods from each of the 4 food groups; grain products, vegetables and fruit, milk products and meat & alternatives. Also, choose foods that are whole grain, high in fibre, rich in colour and lower in fat more often.
Be Smoke Free and avoid being exposed to second-hand smoke or (ETS)
By not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers by as much as 50-60%. Within five minutes of second-hand smoke exposure, the aorta becomes stiffer; within 30 minutes, blood platelets are activated, which makes the blood "stickier" and damages artery linings which can lead to a heart attack.
Have regular medical check-ups that include measurement of your blood cholesterol level. You can also be tested for diabetes, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.