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Harnessing the appeal of professional sport to improve health for men with cardiovascular disease
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Harnessing the appeal of professional sport to improve health for men with cardiovascular disease

Dr Eleanor Quested, Institution: Curtin University

2019 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2020-2022


Regular exercise and healthy eating are critical to help prevent people with cardiovascular disease from experiencing further heart problems. However, most cardiac patients fail to sustain a healthy lifestyle long-term, increasing risks of future heart conditions and premature death.  Healthy lifestyle programs delivered at professional sport settings are an effective ‘hook’ to engage men in 12, weekly, 90-minute sessions (“Aussie-FIT”) that are designed to support them to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Among overweight and obese men, participation in Aussie-FIT and similar programs in the UK has been associated with positive outcomes such as reduced body weight and improved diet (e.g. lower fat/sugar intake, increased fruit/vegetables) increased physical activity, quality of life, and well-being. Importantly, unlike most lifestyle programs, the effects of such programs last for 3+years after the program finishes.

This model could offer an attractive option to engage and improve lifestyle habits of men with cardiovascular disease who struggle to change or sustain changes to health behaviours following their cardiac event. To date, this novel and highly effective approach to engaging men in lifestyle interventions has not been trailed with men with cardiovascular disease. In this pilot, we will create a version of Aussie-FIT, which we will adapt for cardiac patients’ needs; 60 men will complete “Aussie-FIT” and 60 will receive “usual care”. The program will consist of workshops on healthy eating and building physical activity habits, and will offer a range of exercises, ball skills and circuit training.  We will take pre- and post- assessments of diet, physical activity, well-being and biomedical markers of cardiovascular risk. The project will provide pioneering evidence of the feasibility and acceptability of this program among cardiac populations and will set the stage for a future, fully powered trial to assess the potential role such programs to complement existing cardiac rehabilitation options.

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