Now that the holidays are over and the new year is here, many of us have started to shift towards a healthier lifestyle as a part of a new year’s resolution. Initially, it may seem like an easy task, but many of us struggle to eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise regularly for the entire year.

To help you during this transition we’ve developed some helpful tips and tools that you can use to keep your resolutions for the whole year. This week we’re sharing some advice and tips on heart healthy exercises.

Heart Healthy Exercises

Aerobic exercises

Aerobic activities are some of the best exercises for your heart health as they help to increase stamina and improve the function of your heart. Depending on your fitness level the intensity of your workout will vary. Regardless of your intensity, most aerobic workouts recommend that you should do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week to keep an active lifestyle. If 30 minutes is too much for you at the beginning, try to do 10 minutes and gradually increase the amount of your workout.

If you’re beginning to do a physical activity after a long absence or have recently suffered a heart attack, we recommend contacting your doctor to see what kind of exercises they recommend.

Some popular aerobic exercises include: walking, bicycling, swimming and jogging.


Performing strength training is not only beneficial towards your heart health but can also help to reduce common ailments such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Although there are numerous strength workouts online that focus on lifting heavy weights, we recommend trying to use your own bodyweight, small hand weights or resistance bands as you get back into the rhythm of working out. Performing these simple exercises will help to regain strength and ease you back into more intensive strength workouts.


Stretching is highly beneficial before a workout as it reduces the risk of injury and prepares your body for more strenuous exercises. Focus on stretching slowly and gently. As you continue to workout more make attempts to try other stretches, but if you begin to feel pain in your muscles, stop.

Examples of common stretches

  • To loosen the muscles in the front of your thighs lean against a wall, grab hold of one foot and pull your heel toward your buttock.
  • Stretch your calf by leaning your forearms against a wall. Take a step back with one foot, straighten that leg and bend the front leg slightly. Repeat on the other side.
  • Loosen your upper body by raising your arms over your head and clasping your fingers together. Pull your arms back slightly and with your fingers still clasped, open your palms toward the ceiling.


A great way to begin your 2018 fitness journey and keep consistently active throughout the year is by signing up for a sport. Sports can vary in the rate of their activity, so aim to join something that is closer to your fitness and activity level. Sports like soccer, basketball and hockey can require a high amount of physical energy, which can be tough on the body when first starting out.

More moderate sports to join include: curling, volleyball, swimming or even downhill skiing. A good practice when choosing a sport is to find one that fits your personality, so you’ll be motivated to stick with it.

To help you with your goals, we’ve created a Calendar that you can use to help track your fitness throughout the entire year. 

Meet Some Mikey Hero’s

A life saved by 17-year-old Mikey trained student Kayley of Toronto!

“I was walking in downtown Toronto on Labour Day Monday
with my grandmother when we noticed people making a fuss.
There was a man on the ground and he was blue in colour.
Automatically I knew something was wrong!

My grandmother grabbed my backpack and I knelt down
beside him to perform CPR. I got to just over 30 compressions
and he started to make a wheezing noise. There were people
standing around but nobody else knew how to properly
perform CPR.

I knew CPR because I went through the Mikey Young
At Heart App. Going through the videos and quizzes
gave me the confidence to act immediately and without
fear. I knew what to do and I knew if I did it, this man
would have a better chance of survival.”

The Martin Family’s AEDs for Schools campaign was a huge success, getting AEDs into all Ottawa Public Schools!

We’re proud to share the amazing news that The Martin family have succeeded in their goal to get MIKEYs placed in every public school in the Ottawa-Carleton area!

In February of 2017, while playing with friends at recess, Griffin Martin suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. The staff jumped into action immediately, but unfortunately, they nor the emergency personnel who arrived afterwards could revive him.

After learning more about the incident, the family learned that there was no AED at Griffin’s school. If an AED was available during their son’s cardiac arrest, he may have stood a better chance of surviving. In fact, 78 of the 119 Ottawa public elementary schools do not currently have an AED available.

To honour Griffin’s memory the family created a campaign to raise money for the installation of AED’s in every school in the Ottawa area, including Orlean’s Wood, Griffin Martin’s elementary school.

We helped the Martins launch their AEDs for Schools – Remember Griffin campaign at the end of September and in just a few weeks the Martins raised close to $20,000. CBC News interviewed Griffin’s parents, Andrea and Damien, and The Mikey Network President, Eva Naumovski, and news stories ran online, in print, and on the radio, nationwide.

All of this activity quickly got the attention of senior staff within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. It turns out that the OCDSB already had the money for the AED’s and was planning to install them in phases over the next year. The main hurdle that the school board faced to placing them sooner was a lack of training among staff and an unclear plan for how the machines would be maintained.

They announced in October, that they will begin the installation of Mikey defibrillators in all of their school’s by September 2018.

The OCDSB has partnered with the Ottawa Paramedic Service, which oversees close to 1,200 defibrillators in public places across Ottawa. A spokesperson for the OPS has stated that the schools will be responsible to maintain the AED’s, but they will assist in fixing any problems should they arise.

“The Mikey Network was proud to work with the Martin family to bring awareness to their cause. We couldn’t be
happier to share this amazing accomplishment to honour their late son!” Said The Mikey Network President,
Eva Naumovski.

Two More Local Heroes

Tom Condotta and Darlene Fournier jumped in to help a man whose heart had stopped during a recreational volleyball league game in March at Chinguacousy Secondary School. This incident had a happy ending, thanks to the two educators’ quick response and knowledge of CPR/AED. Read more here. 

Canada’s 911 Ride was a huge success!

Every year the Canada 911 Foundation holds an annual
motorcycle ride called Canada’s 911 Ride, to raise funds and
awareness for families of fallen emergency service personnel,
children who were victims of violent crimes, and The Mikey
Network. This year’s event was hugely successful and
involved lots of fun, emotional stories, and the thunderous
roar of motorcycle engines. READ MORE…

Luke ctv news

Family credits defibrillator for saving son’s life | CTV Toronto News

CTV News Toronto recently ran a story about Luke Pignatelli,
one of the young people who are now equipped with their
own life-saving MIKEY AED.

The Pignatelli family in Aurora have more than one reason to be grateful to The Mikey Network. Last year their 13-year-old son Luke suffered a cardiac arrest when exercising in his school gym.
Firefighters revived him with a defibrillator and he was rushed to SickKids hospital. He recovered but doctors couldn’t determine the exact cause of his problem and so he was given a temporary pacemaker.

Still, his parents were worried that it could happen again, especially during their long trips north to the family cottage.
So through their Young at Heart program, The Mikey Network provided a portable MIKEY AED that Luke can take with him
wherever he goes.

Because the doctors think the problem might be genetic, Luke’s two brothers were also provided with a MIKEY that can always be on hand at their swim classes. And Luke’s grandfather who also has a
history of heart problems has his own MIKEY as well.

With so many family members afforded the peace of mind offered by their MIKEYs, the Pignatelli family all participated in this year’s annual Walk for Life fundraiser. They encourage everyone to do the same, so that more life-saving MIKEYs can be placed in public locations and provided to people whose lives can depend on them.

Please help The Mikey Network!

These are just a few of the great things that happened this year. The Mikey Network receives no government funding so all of our initiatives depend on the generosity of Team Mikey and those who support us.

Thanks to the generosity of our corporate sponsors HERITY and
Heathwood Homes, 100% of your donations go to promoting
heart health and placing life-saving MIKEYs in key locations.

This holiday season, please consider making a donation in
your name or on behalf of a friend or loved one. We will
gladly send an announcement card on your behalf, as
well as providing a tax receipt for all gifts over $00.
This holiday season and all through the year to come,
it’s in your heart to help!

With your help, The Beat Goes On…

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!