Jun 20, 2023

Older people are fast realising the importance of diet and exercise for a healthy heart

Rob, 67, had a health wakeup call which led him to change his lifestyle. [Source: Shutterstock]

Heart health and the importance of taking care of yourself became very apparent for New South Wales resident, Rob McCluskey, now 67, when he suffered a heart attack in 2015 while moving house.

Ending up in the Royal North Shore Hospital, Rob was unaware of what had happened or the fact that he had just received a stent to help fix a 98% blockage of his artery.

The incident saw Rob take on various healthy habits in the years since and he is proof diet and exercise play a huge part in having good health and wellbeing, particularly as we get older. The impacts of poor heart health are unfortunately felt by many.

“I realised 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’,” he said. 

In April 2020, Rob underwent bypass surgery where he experienced some setbacks. But focusing on maintaining his healthy habits, Rob leads an active social life filled with activities including golf, pétanque and body surfing multiple times a week. 

Heart Foundation Senior Food & Nutrition Advisor, Jemma O’Hanlon, said making an effort to tweak parts of your daily life can help improve your lifestyle and heart health. 

Jemma’s tips for healthy eating include:

  • Upping your intake of potassium-rich fruit and vegetables to help lower blood pressure
  • Enjoying more healthy fats from salmon, avocado and nuts to help lower cholesterol
  • Snacking on high protein foods such as Greek yoghurt pre or post-exercise
  • Adding grains and legumes to bulk out meat dishes 

As the weather cools down, you can even refer to the Heart Foundation’s new Winter Comfort Recipe Book for meal ideas that will help promote good heart health. 

“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,” Jemma explained.

“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.”

In terms of exercise, you don’t have to be as active as Rob to look after your health. For older people, simply walking is one of the best and easiest ways to integrate exercise into your daily routine.

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,” said Heart Foundation’s Physical Activity Senior Advisor, Elizabeth Calleja.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Menopause and Beyond: bringing older women’s health and well-being up to scratch

More than half of the world’s population will go through menopause but there are still roadblocks stopping older women from having quality health and well-being outcomes pre and post menopause. That’s why menopause is the focus of this year’s Women's Health Week and the annual National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) Summit.  Read More

Young Jack flies the flag for male aged care workers

An unlikely career move has seen 23-year-old Jack abandon his job at an abattoir to take up aged care work – a move he encourages more males to do. Read More

Aged Care Staff Need To Be Careful About What They Say Online

While there is no doubt that the internet has enhanced our ability to access information and communicate with those we love, giving everyone the ability to speak to the masses is not a privilege without complications. The vast majority of Australians have personal social media accounts, and it is not uncommon to see posts from... Read More