TO KEEP moving is the biggest lesson Barry Nixon wants to share from 14 years living with cardiac illness.
Mr Nixon said exercise was the key to living well after a heart incident, so he has made sure to keep active during the coronavirus pandemic. But then, he also found an extra vital factor - talking.
HeartBeat Ballarat has been back in action for about a fortnight allowing a safe space for people who have experienced a cardiac condition to recover and support each other.
Mr Nixon said numbers were dramatically down since before COVID-19 due to anxiety about mixing in a group - but the option was there for people who wanted to walk with others of similar experience.
Now we're all really understanding the social component and overall benefits of peer support in the model.Barry Nixon, HeartBeat Ballarat
"One thing I've found for those who are not sedentary, they are living well and thriving with a heart condition and those who are sedentary tend to have poorer outcomes and health," Mr Nixon said.
"All our members have said they have really missed the social component. Now we're all really understanding the social component and overall benefits of peer support in the model. Walking's important but the coffee afterwards and mixing with people with shared experience is important, too."
A Heart Foundation survey found 30 per cent of Australians had been walking more since COVID-19 restrictions started. The Foundation encourages people who have taken up walking to find ways to keep it up, like joining a walking group.
People who are vulnerable to COVID-19, including people with chronic health conditions, are urged to consult with their doctor before stepping out.
Healh experts have repeatedly warned of the higher risks for a severe cases of COVID-19 for those who have chronic illness and contract the disease - and exercise is a key way to prevent this.
Leading Australian cardiologist Garry Jennings, a former Ballarat Health Services board member, has also told The Courier it was important people with heart conditions stay on top of their health with a health professional during lockdowns.
Professor Jennings, who is also Heart Foundation's chief medical advisor, said there had been a 40 per cent decline in people visiting emergency departments for acute coronary problems during the pandemic. He said worryingly people with mild signs and symptoms for heart attack and stroke were not seeking help.
- HeartBeat Ballarat meets at Victoria Park's inclusive playground for a five-kilometre supported walk on Wednesdays, 2pm, and Saturdays, 9.30am.
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