The Coventry Health Challenge gets behind National Heart Month

Published Monday, 01 February 2021

Coventry City Council and health and care partner are promoting National Heart Month and encouraging residents to improve their heart health by looking more closely at their lifestyle choices.

Heart Month

The ongoing pandemic has altered our daily routines and for many of us, with extra time at home and self-isolation, our eating habits and activity levels may have also changed, especially as we are now in the third national lockdown. That is why residents are being encouraged to make small regular and manageable changes towards a healthier lifestyle during February’s National Heart Month within lockdown conditions for the Coventry Health Challenge.

According to the British Heart Foundation anyone with a heart condition is considered at increased risk of more severe complications of Covid-19 and those over 60 are at particularly high risk. In many cases, people can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by improving their diet, doing more physical activity, cutting down on alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. 

Since April 2020 Healthy Lifestyles Coventry has supported over 200 people to increase their activity levels to the 150 minutes of recommended government guideline levels. Just over one third of these clients increased to 150 minutes having previously been inactive, with coaches actively encouraging clients to walk and talk to help with this. One client told the service that, with being in lockdown again she calls her mum every day and walks around the house while she is on the phone. They have also supported a further 120 people increase their activity to at least 30 minutes a week from previously doing nothing.

There may have been things we have committed to as part of New Year’s Resolutions but trying to do too much all in one go can feel overwhelming, resulting in many likely to quit around this time of year or feel disheartened from slip-ups.

Despite the pandemic and restrictions it is important to remember we can still make a difference and when it comes to physical activity, the guidelines allow for exercising outside and of course we can all be active within our homes and there are tips and guides on physical activity and a balanced diet that is achievable at home can help everyone stay healthy.

Cllr Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport at Coventry City Council said:

“Keeping your heart healthy during these challenging times, cannot be underestimated. It is through small manageable change that makes any kind of change sustainable especially as many of us may be struggling to cope at the moment with the restrictions of the national lockdown and the cold weather.

“But changing the simplest everyday habits can make a big difference – from eating more fruit and veg, drinking less alcohol, starting a smoking cessation journey, or building some exercise in to your everyday life at home or with a short walk.

“Across Coventry it is good to see people are already taking control of their health so let’s continue this momentum and not give up, we will see and feel the difference. The Coventry Health Challenge is here to encourage and support you with advice, tips and signposting to services like HLS Coventry to keep you motivated and on track. I would encourage everyone to make a pledge and commit to a healthier lifestyle.”

Dr Sarah Raistrick, GP and Clinical Chair for NHS Coventry and Rugby (and Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Groups) said: “We’ve seen the effects that Covid-19 has had on people’s health and especially those who have a long term health condition, such as; diabetes, asthma and heart disease. We know that people who are overweight are at higher risk and that’s why it’s vital we take up the Coventry Health Challenge. Being the “healthiest me I can be” can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease as well as the increasing the chances of survival after a heart attack.  

“A balanced diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish and starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice is a great place to start. As well as avoiding foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries and dairy products that are high in saturated fats and sugar. Too much alcohol can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain. Binge drinking can increase your risk of having a heart attack, so you should aim to limit your intake to at most one to two units a day.” 

“There are a number of other changes that you can make, such as stopping smoking for good, increasing activity levels, managing your weight, going for a blood pressure and cholesterol check-up, as well as learning to manage your stress levels. 

“Let’s start with small changes, get involved in the challenge and get support to keep it up.” 

More about the Coventry Health Challenge campaign along with a Physical Activity booklet, and a printable Goal Tracker to record progress. Residents are also be encouraged to make a pledge and commit to just one thing for the campaign as part of prioritising their physical health, setting goals for themselves and staying resilient this winter.

You also can read stories from fellow Coventry residents who have made lifestyle changes and improved their long-term health. 

Coventry City Council