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This Father’s Day, ensure your team is onside with heart health.
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

This Father’s Day, ensure your team is onside with heart health.

As we race towards the end of the 2020 footy seasons, whether you follow AFL or NRL, one thing’s for sure: you can only get to ultimate glory as a team.

And, that’s just as true for heart health as it is for Aussie Rules footy or rugby.

As Dads around the country get together with family and friends to celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, 6 September, it’s never been more important to take a team approach to getting to better heart health.

If you’re a man who’s into playing sports, you might be used to copping a rough knock or two in a game. But, there’s no bigger hit than heart disease.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that, after adjusting for age, 62% more males died of heart disease than females.

That’s almost 15,000 sons, brothers, mates and dads who lose their lives to heart disease each year.

This Father’s Day, nothing can be more important than getting your dad, or showing your kids that you are, on side for better heart health.

The most important teams are the ones that back healthy hearts

Dads know how important teamwork is: it makes all the difference on the sports field, at work and when raising a family.

Being part of a high-functioning team is also key when it comes to looking after your heart health. There are three key teams that can help you become a heart health champion.

Your home team

Sure, Elvis sang these words almost 60 years ago, but they’re just as true today: “Home is where the heart is”. More importantly, home is where heart health begins.
Making heart health a priority at home sets up long-lasting life lessons that can result in healthier hearts for every family member. Here are some tips for going for gold.

Make heart-healthy eating fun and delicious

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a USA-based research organisation working across global health statistics and impact evaluation, found that dietary risks are responsible for around half of the burden of heart disease. So, adopting a healthier eating pattern can go a long way towards creating a healthier heart.

But who gets excited about snacking on carrot sticks? Surely there is a better way. The Heart Foundation believes that heart-healthy eating is about more than swapping out individual foods or ingredients in your diet; it’s about a pattern of eating and building a more holistic approach to eating well.

At the core of this approach is eating foods and meals that include:

  1. Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains
  2. A variety of healthy proteins, especially fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart-healthy diet.
  3. Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced-fat varieties
  4. Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  5. Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt

There are plenty of fun recipes you can create and enjoy together that reflect this approach. Here are some to try:

  1. Apple and Blueberry Crumble for a fruity, flavoursome breakfast
  2. Zucchini chips with  herb and garlic dip for a modern, heart-friendly twist on the classic “chip sandwich”
  3. Italian meatball pasta for a flavour-filled dinner that’s great for your heart, too

Get active at storytime

If you’ve got younger children, have a go at adding heart healthy spin to story time (if you’re doing this at night, just remember not to get the kids all hyper before bed). How?

  1. Act out the story: if there’s a “good guys vs. bad guys” chase scene or a part of the story where the main character takes on a physical challenge, act it out with your kids. Not only will you help the story “come alive”, but you’ll also be doing some exercise too
  2. Get into the shoes of a story character: discuss what the character does throughout the story and how they could change their behaviour to better look after their heart
  3. Listen and dance too: remember that “story” doesn’t always have to be a book. You can play some of your favourite songs and get dancing,or watch a musical movie and play along with a high energy scene.

Your away team

Being a Dad and a partner doesn’t take away from your other roles as a mate, work colleague or gym buddy. Joining a team outside of the house can really boost your efforts to reach your heart health goals. Here are some tips on getting together with friends and colleagues to exercise your way to a healthier heart.

Set shared goals to keep each other accountable

Getting active and staying active delivers a huge boost to heart health. The reality is that many of us aren’t as active as we could be, and this leads to real, lasting and negative impacts on our hearts. In fact, being inactive is responsible for 10–20% of disease burden for related diseases, and 11% for coronary heart disease (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017).

Get active together

Working together with your mates can help you stay active:

  1. Make exercise time a bonding time: this year, we’ve all learned the true value of friendships. When COVID-19 lockdowns have kept us apart for so long, we can use exercise to rebuild bonds.

  2. Work out together to stay accountable: setting exercise goals is easy. Sticking to them? Well, that’s a lot harder. When you work out with a friend, to help to keep each other accountable; you stay active to avoid letting your mate down.

  3. Keep it competitive and fun: when you head out for a bike ride, run or a brisk walk, aim to break your personal best for distance or time. This competitive approach will help you stick with your goals by adding a fun rivalry to your routine. As for the fun part. Complement your ride, run or walk with a trip to your favourite café or a local park. For the ultimate competition, join an amateur sports competition: consider a year-round sport like indoor cricket or soccer or basketball.

Your high-performance team

“Men... often treat their bodies as tools to do a job. Health is often not a priority until poor health gets in the way of...  (doing) something else important to them,” says Derek M Griffith and Elizabeth C Stewart, both from Vanderbilt University, USA writing in The Conversation.

Like any other tool, you need to keep your heart in check to make sure it’s performing at its best; that’s where your final heart health team comes into play. Sometimes, you need some external support, and the most important members of this team are your regular GP and the Heart Foundation.

Get a heart health check

When was the last time you spoke with your regular doctor about your heart health? Maybe it was a long time ago and, possibly, you’ve never had the conversation. Now, it’s straight forward to get a regular heart health check done by your GP. If you’re 45 and older (or 30 and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians) you can access a Medicare-covered heart health check.

The check, performed by a GP or practice nurse, helps to determine your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. Importantly, after the check, your GP will help you to come up with a plan to help minimise your heart disease risks.

During your heart health check, your GP will:

  1. Talk to you about heart disease risk factors, including your diet, how active you are, whether you drink alcohol or smoke, how your weight is tracking and your family history.

  2. This information will help them assesses your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and will determine what steps you might need to take next

  3. Make a plan on how you can stay on top of heart disease risk factors and improve your heart health.

  4. Possibly prescribe heart medication, if needed.

  5. Potentially refer you to other health professionals, such as a dietician, as needed.

Find out more about heart health checks.

The Heart Foundation is on your side

We are always here for you: helping you to get to a healthier heart is what drives us every day. Do you want to know more about how you can improve your heart health? Visit our website to find information about different heart conditions, healthy eating, exercise and more.

For more specific questions, ring the Heart Foundation Helpline. When you call our Helpline, you can speak with experienced, qualified health professionals to access free information, guidance and support to help improve your heart health.

To get in touch, call 13 11 12. The Helpline is there for you between 8.30am to 5.30pm Australian Central Standard Time Monday to Friday (not available on public holidays). 

 

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