Winter can be a particularly tough time of year for some of us. It’s dreary weather, the shorter days and the often cold temperatures. Regardless of those seasonal changes, many of us look forward to the holiday parties and celebrations that come with this time of year. Each event is full of festive cheer and good tidings but alternatively can cause some people to engage in overindulgence.

To help you navigate how to remain heart healthy during the holidays, we’ve created some tips that you can follow during your winter break.

Tips for a heart-healthy holiday

Eat regularly

Each holiday season, each one of us craves a dish that’s served at a big holiday dinner. We look forward to it in the lead up towards the holidays, and will often skip a meal to make room so that we can eat as much of it as we can. Try not to do this. By skipping meals you’re more likely to overeat. Aim to keep your energy levels high and eat your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Load up with colour

This is a trick that is often referred by doctors to recovering heart attack patients. Aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit. This is a great way to balance out calorie-rich foods that are prevalent at holiday dinners. Optional: Try to choose fresh cut veggies, leafy garden salads and fruits, as they will tend to have fewer calories than other vegetables like mashed potatoes or maple syrup and squash.

Enjoy your favourite holiday foods in moderation

We acknowledge that it’s extremely difficult to avoid having some holiday favourites like shortbread, turkey and mashed potatoes. Instead of indulging heavily in everything, aim to have only what you truly enjoy. If you prefer having turkey and gravy; don’t have sweets for dessert.

Watch your drinks

Calories from drinks can add up quickly. This goes for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Seek out alternatives to some drinks that you would normally have casually. Instead of rum and coke have vodka and cran. Another alternative is to treat the drink as a dessert or snack rather than an add-on.

Remain active

Balance out the extra calories that you’ll be accumulating throughout the holiday season by doing some winter activities. This can be as simple as going for a walk with your family or shovelling the walks. Keeping active and getting the normal 2.5 hours of exercise a week is extremely important during the holidays.

Share your tips on how to remain heart healthy during the holidays in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


With much of the country already experiencing plenty of snowfalls this winter, we thought that it would be a good time to talk about how the cold weather can increase the risk of a heart attack or a sudden cardiac arrest. More importantly how you can protect your heart and reduce that risk.

Although shovelling can seem like an easy chore, it can easily become a strenuous activity leaving you with plenty of fatigue. Lifting snow with a shovel back and forth across a driveway can take a lot out of those who are not regularly active. This can also be the case for those who have snowblowers, as the act of pushing the heavy machine can cause the same amount of strain.

In addition to the activity, the cold weather is another contributor to an increased risk as it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood more likely to form clots.

Follow our tips below to make sure that you’re well prepared for shoveling your home this winter.

Before you shovel snow

  • If you’re recovering from a recent heart attack or have any doubts about shoveling affecting your health, please contact a doctor.
  • Look to avoid shoveling early on in the morning. Your blood is more prone to clotting due to the lower temperature. Aim to do it at a warmer point of the day if possible.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling, as your blood will be diverted from the heart to the stomach.
  • Treat shoveling like a workout and warm up your body before you begin. Even something as simple as walking to the end of the street will be beneficial.
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While shoveling snow

  • Use a small shovel that you can comfortably handle, rather than one that can pick up a lot of snow. Having a smaller shovel will allow for more loads, and won’t stress out your body.
  • Give yourself a lot of time to shovel. Plan to make frequent, 15-minute breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Dress in the appropriate amount of layers. Dress so you avoid hypothermia, but not too much and overheat. You could sweat a lot with too much clothing, which could result in the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for.
  • Make sure to cover your head and your neck.
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems).
  • Watch for the stereotypical signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you or you think someone is having a heart attack, call 911 right away.

We hope that you’ve found these tips valuable. Stay safe and happy shoveling!





Congratulations to Stephanie Plastina and Terence Boateng, the 2017 Mikey Network award recipients from the Ryerson University School of Nutrition!

Each year The Mikey Network awards a scholarship grant for students at the Ryerson University School of Nutrition, to recognize academic excellence and a commitment to the promotion of nutrition to prevent chronic heart diseases.

This year the award was presented to the students by Dr Nick Bellissimo, on behalf of The Mikey Network. Each of the students was asked what this award meant to them. Here is what they had to say:

” I feel honored to have received an award that highlights such an important cause. The study of nutrition is grounded in prevention to build a better and healthier society. To be apart of this is the greatest reward of all”

– Stephanie Plastina

“I am honored to be awarded this scholarship for my work in the promotion of nutrition to prevent chronic disease. This has been a passion of mine throughout my undergraduate experience and having an award tailor-made to this passion is both humbling and inspiring. Thank you so much to The Mikey Network organization for all the excellent work that they do and through this award I hope to further promote a healthy and active lifestyle.”

– Terence Boateng

Congratulations, Stephanie and Terence! We hope that this award is just one of the first steps in helping you to make the world a healthier place!



As we enter the winter months, everything begins to slow down around us. Activities that used to take no time at all can become more of a chore. Even something as simple as going out requires you to put on multiple layers of clothing to keep yourself warm.

Although being outside can be tough, it isn’t all bad. It can actually be one of the best time’s of the year to go out and exercise. Activities like running in cold weather force the heart to work harder to distribute blood in the body, which can actually make heart muscles stronger. Saying that though, we only recommend running during the winter to already active people, not to those who are inactive or recovering from a heart attack or cardiac arrest.  Strenuous activity like running or snow shovelling during the winter can be very dangerous to individuals who are not used to regular physical activity.

To help distinguish what exercises you should do during the winter, we have compiled tips for active and inactive people.

Helpful tips for people with a heart illness or who are inactive

If you’re someone who has recently suffered from some sort of heart illness, first and foremost we recommend speaking with your doctor about an exercise plan. They know your health condition the best and will be able to recommend proper exercises for you as you transition back into a normal routine.

For inactive people or those who are recovering from a heart illness, we recommend beginning with some form of aerobic exercise to get your heart and lungs active again. Start slowly, and work your way up. Exercises such as swimming, light jogging or walking three to four times a week can be beneficial to you building up your heart muscles.

During the winter, we recommend walking to be your primary outdoor activity. It’s the easiest exercise to transition into and will allow you to slowly build up your aerobic activity.

As you adapt to exercising, begin trying more intensive forms of exercise.  This may require you to perform exercises indoors until you’re strong enough to do more outdoors.

Indoor exercises/sports to build up your strength

  • Curling
  • Chest stretches
  • Wall presses
  • Step-ups
  • Light-weight lifting
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Tips for active people exercising outdoors

There are many benefits to working out outside during the winter. The main being, that you’ll strengthen your heart. You’ll also burn more calories, build a stronger tolerance to the cold and get a healthy dose of vitamin D.

There’s no shortage of activities/sports to do outdoors during the winter, but here are some of the most popular ones.

  • Hockey
  • Skiing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Hiking

Although there are many benefits to exercising outdoors there are a number of factors that you should consider as well.

Factors to consider when exercising outdoors

Proper clothes

Dressing to workout in the winter can be difficult initially, but it’s all about finding the right materials that will help to keep you be comfortable. We recommend layering your clothes with moisture-wick fabrics that will help keep your body at a healthy temperature. The best items of clothing are the ones that will work to keep you warm but will also allow you to cool down. An example would be a jacket that has air flaps that can also be sealed back up with a zipper.

Staying hydrated

It’s one of the most important things to consider when exercising outdoors. Although it may seem like you’re not losing much sweat compared to when you workout in the summer, the sweat on your body evaporates at a very quick rate in the dry winter air. To prevent this make sure to drink water before, during and after cold-weather workouts to stay hydrated.

Warming up and cooling down

Properly warming up and cooling down should already be a part of your workout, but it’s even more important when it’s cold outside. You need to engage, warm up and energize your muscles before your workout. You want to make sure that you’re keeping your core body temperature elevated. Doing this also helps to prevent injuries from occurring like painful twists, sprains, and tears during your workout.

Do you have some tips that you’d like to share? Leave your suggestions in the comments or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

November 13-19, 2017, is Digital Health Week in Canada. The week, which has been organized by Better Health Together, aims to celebrate and recognize how digital health is transforming the delivery of healthcare across the country as more and more of our systems adapt to digital landscapes.

The Mikey Network understands the importance of offering access to healthcare online, as it can help many of the people that we work with regularly. Digital health tools can help you perform CPR in emergency situations or keep track of your prescriptions.Here are some examples of technology that will help you to be more heart healthy:

Fitness Trackers

As wearable technology develops many people are now opting for fitness trackers to help monitor their health. In addition to being a watch and a way for you to keep track of your fitness workouts, many can keep an accurate reading of your heart rate. Fitness trackers can be highly beneficial to those of us who recently suffered a heart attack and want to make sure that they don’t overwork their heart.

Some of the most popular trackers are from Fitbit and Garmin, but hybrid fitness tracker/smart-watch options from Apple and Samsung are beginning to gain popularity.

Mikey Young at Heart App

Although our app is geared towards teaching teenagers who can fill their school’s volunteer hour requirements while learning CPR/AED, it is useful to anyone who wants to learn how to perform CPR and how to use an AED in an emergency situation.

Once you download the app, you can work through the different courses and exercises to prepare you for emergency situations you may face if you see someone suffering from a cardiac arrest or a heart attack. It’s available on the Google Play and Apple app store.

Have you ever found yourself asking your friends or family for a good doctor, or if they know of a specialist that could help you? can help you with that.. Simply type in your location and it will provide you with a full list of all of the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies that are in your area. The best part about it is that you can access the tool at any time; on your computer, or via the app on your phone.

Nike Running app

Are you looking to get back into working out, but don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a fitness tracker? Try out the Nike+Run app. It’s completely geared towards working with you on your fitness progress. You can develop a plan and it will record the distance, routes, and personal records that you achieve. It will also offer one-on-one coaching to get you to your fitness goals.

Do you have some digital health tools that you’d like to share? Leave your suggestions in the comments or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.