The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control’s National Non-Smoking Week has just begun and will run from January 21st to the 27th. The event, which addresses the health issues that smoking can cause aims to:

  • Educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking
  • Offer solutions to help people quit
  • Prevent young Canadians from beginning to smoke and become addicted to tobacco cigarettes
  • Assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada

The Mikey Network believes this annual event to be of high importance as smoking is one of the lead contributors to heart disease and cancers for Canadians.

Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can ultimately lead to a heart attack. When it comes to heart disease prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes also are risky, as is exposure to secondhand smoke.

To help smokers or those who know of a smoker in their life to quit, we encourage you to utilize the following resources.

  • Smokers Helpline: A site that is dedicated to helping smokers understand the benefits and negatives that can be attributed to smoking. It also has community forums for those who are in the process of quitting and resources to begin your first steps.
  • The Government of Canada: The government has created a site that allows you to connect with an organization in your province that provides resources on how to quit. They also have a toll free line that you can use to ask questions and talk to someone about quitting.
  • Break it off: Is a free mobile app that is dedicated to helping younger people quit smoking.
  • Leave the pack behind: Is a free resource from the Government of Ontario that offers young adults information on how to quit and personalized support.

If you found these resources to be helpful for you, please let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Exercising regularly can be one of the most beneficial things that you can do for your heart health. Performing physical activity helps you to live longer and allows your body to run and perform better in the long-term. It’s advised that everyone should be performing 150 minutes of exercise a week to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.

But after suffering a heart attack or a cardiac arrest it can be a daunting thought to begin exercising again. What’s safe to do? What should I focus on? Where do I start?

Although you may face these questions with uncertainty, the truth is that there is almost no disease that doesn’t benefit from exercise in some way. As such, you shouldn’t give up, sit around and do nothing. You should focus on ways that you can begin to strengthen your body and improve your overall heart function.

Benefits of regular exercise for the heart include:

  • Strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system
  • Improving your circulation and helping your body use oxygen better
  • Improving your heart failure symptoms

Seek out a physician before you begin

Although we encourage you to exercise, we strongly recommend that before you do anything; you contact your physician to see what they recommend. They’ll understand your level of recovery and fitness level better than anyone else, and will be able to provide you with a detailed plan to begin exercising again.

Here are some questions that you should ask when you go to meet your doctor:

  • How much exercise can I do?
  • How often can I exercise?
  • What types of exercises should I do?
  • What activities should I avoid?
  • Should I hire a personal trainer to exercise with me?

After you have met with your doctor, they may recommend that you should go through a rehabilitation program to teach you how to safely become more active. You can find a cardiac rehab program in any province at cardiachealth.ca.

General workout tips

  • Focus on doing aerobic exercises when you begin working out again, rather than more complex movements like isometric exercises (pushups). Aerobic exercises are easier to perform and will help to make your heart stronger, while isometric could strain your muscles. Popular aerobic exercises include running, walking, and swimming.
  • Look at the forecast before your workout to avoid humid or cold days. Cold weather can increase your blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood clots more likely to form. Humid weather can tire you out much quicker and can interfere with your circulation. On days when the weather is too hot or cold, aim to workout inside instead.
  • Make sure that you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days.

Starting to exercise

If your doctor has advised you that you’re all right to perform regular exercises instead of going to a rehabilitation center, we recommend that you slowly ease back into a workout routine. Everyone should perform 30 minutes of exercise a day, but it’s best if you go at a pace that you’re comfortable with; especially if you haven’t worked out in a long time.

Here is a simple workout that you can do anywhere.

Week 1 – 10-minute walk (Every second day)

Week 2 – 5-minute walk to warm up, a 10-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.

Week 3 –  5-minute walk to warm up, a 15-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.

Week 4 –  5-minute walk to warm up, a 20-minute walk, and 5-min cool-down.

Things to look out for

As you begin the transition back into exercising again, it’s important to remember to look for any symptoms of a heart attack during your workout. If you can, aim to workout with a partner for the first two months so that they can monitor you as you get back into the rhythm of going to the gym. While you workout both you and your partner should be conscious of:

  • Any chest pain
  • Weakness in your body
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder, or any other symptoms that cause concern.

Exercising and making your way back towards a heart-healthy lifestyle will take time, so no matter what your results are initially; always aim to keep moving forward.

 

As we begin the new year, a majority of us have begun the annual tradition of defining new years resolutions to accomplish. One of the most popular being weight loss and maintaining a healthy diet throughout the year. Although it is widely accepted that these are good resolutions to have, it is very hard to accomplish. To help you, we’ve developed some nutritional tips that you can use as a guide to stay the course.

Nutritional Tips

Be patient and plan

Any change in one’s life takes time. As you begin to change your diet try to think of the undertaking as a gradual lifestyle change, not a crash course. Think about the goals that you would like to accomplish and determine what is manageable for you. What can you accomplish in a month, a few months; a year? Each goal or resolution that you consider should lead towards a diet that is focused on benefiting your overall heart health. Even something small like opting for water instead of soda will make a huge difference in your daily diet.

Focus on the overall quality of your diet

It’s very easy to look at two different items and compare calorie to calorie to convince yourself that a low-quality item isn’t so bad. Instead of comparing, aim to eat foods that you know are going to have great nutritional value. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and grains are always great staples to focus on within your diet. They will not only be lower in calorie content but will also help to make you feel more full.

Have a meal plan and eat at home

Having a weekly or even monthly meal plan developed for yourself or your household will help you to stay on track with your diet. Utilize the myriad of heart-healthy recipes that are available on our site.

Cooking at home is also very beneficial to sticking with a heart-healthy diet, as you have full control of what is being put into your food. It will also help to save you money as you won’t be tempted to eat out at restaurants or fast food establishments.

To help you plan your meals we’ve taken the time to develop this free calendar that you can use as a resource to plan out your meals for a week or even a month.

Watch what you eat when eating out

Although we highly recommend focusing on preparing a majority of your meals, we know that it’s not always possible to avoid going out to eat. Instead of leaning towards old habits, aim to go in with a strategy. Instead of fries, ask for more vegetables. Instead of getting an entree with a heavy creamy sauce, opt for it without the sauce. Create a strategy that will work within the diet and goals that you’ve set out for yourself.

Remember, switching to a new diet will take time, so be patient with yourself as you adapt to this change. If you’d like to share with us your progress or some of your own tips, reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

 

 

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.

Iamsick.ca

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? Iamsick.ca 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.