Heart Foundation urges men to adopt healthier habits to improve physical and mental wellbeing

The Heart Foundation is urging men to think more about their daily behavior during this year’s Men’s Health Week.

The annual week’s theme for 2023 is ‘healthy habits’, with a focus on encouraging men to adopt new, healthier habits to improve physical and mental wellbeing.

Heart Foundation Senior Food & Nutrition Advisor Jemma O’Hanlon said Men’s Health Week continues to gain traction as men become more aware of their risk factors.

Men’s Health Week is a great opportunity to start and build on conversations about healthy living,” Ms O’Hanlon said.

We always encourage small changes that can be adapted into people’s daily routines.

Generally, that doesn’t mean giving up a favourite food entirely, but rather making small swaps on a daily basis.

The same applies to exercise, which may begin with gentle walking routines that might lead to something more strenuous in the future. Initially, however it’s about making regular and sustainable changes.”

Jemma O’Hanlon, Heart Foundation Senior Food & Nutrition Advisor.

The Heart Foundation’s tips for healthy eating and exercise:
Attributable to Jemma O’Hanlon

  • Boost your diet with potassium-rich fruit and vegetables to help lower blood pressure.
  • Enjoy more healthy fats from salmon, avocado and nuts to help lower cholesterol.
  • Snack on Greek yoghurt for the ultimate high protein boost, pre or post exercise.
  • Beef up meat dishes with additional legumes or lentils (a nice little cost saver too).
  • Try a hearty new recipe – download the Heart Foundation’s new Winter Comfort Recipe Book.

 Attributable to Elizabeth Calleja, Heart Foundation Senior Advisor, Physical Activity

  • Walking for an average of 30 minutes or more a day can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke by 35 percent and Type 2 diabetes by 40 percent. It’s not just your heart and muscles that benefit from walking. It also helps improve our daily mood, which cumulatively leads to better mental health.
  • For most people, walking is an easy way to start and maintain an active lifestyle. It doesn’t require special skills, instruction or equipment and it’s free.
  • Heart Foundation Walking is a great way to be active. Walking groups are open to all Australians. People can join an existing group in their local area or start their own group.  
  • Walking in a Heart Foundation Walking Group is great way to connect with other people socially and be active. It is also great for your mental and physical health: take a friend or make new friends while you walk!
  • Details: https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/
  • Want to walk on your own? Heart Foundation’s Personal Walking Plans are a free (online) six-week walking program developed by accredited exercise physiologists. Designed for people to reach the Australian physical activity guidelines by week six, the program includes supportive motivational messaging and instructional videos to help get you moving.  
  • Details: https://walkingplans.heartfoundation.org.au/

“You’re on your second life already”

Heart health became a big issue for NSW resident  Rob McCluskey, now 67, when he suffered a heart attack in 2015 while moving house.

Forty minutes later, Rob was in Royal North Shore hospital, largely unaware of what had happened or the fact that he had just received a stent to help counteract a 98 per cent blockage of his artery.

The self-described “big unit” has embraced a whole suite of healthy habits in the years since the event.

I realized if I want to sort myself out, I’m going to have to take care of myself. I said, you’re on your second life already,”

Rob McCluskey, NSW Resident.

With an active social life filled with activities including golf, pétanque and body surfing multiple times a week, Rob also leads a twice-weekly beach exercise class for seniors. From the outside he has a contagious energy and could be the poster boy for great healthy habits.

But it’s a journey that’s included many twists and turns.

In April 2020 Rob underwent bypass surgery, once again at Royal North Shore hospital. However, this time recovery wasn’t as straight forward.

Despite all setbacks, Rob concentrates his efforts on maintaining healthy habits and encouraging people to be mindful of their heart health.

This year Rob signed up to take part in the Heart Foundation’s Beating Hearts Bootcamp challenge, raising the most of any participant – more than $2,700 from 75 supporters.

Signing up led him to a startling discovery: “It turned out 22 of my 322 Facebook friends had also had experiences with heart disease. Almost seven per cent of my group of friends! That’s how common it is,” he said.

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