Putting exercise at heart of the community

Dave Birds
Dave Birds
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Heart patients in Sheffield are being given their own Cardiac Olympics. Catherine Scott spoke to the man behind the idea.

With the London Olympic Games just five months away, more than 100 people have been inspired to put their heart and soul into another inspiring sporting event in Sheffield.

Competitors from five local heart support groups are gearing up for the Cardiac Olympics at Concord Sports Centre, Sheffield, on Thursday, February 23.

The event, which is open to anyone over the age of 50, will see participants taking part in a warm-up class and a variety of low-intensity sports such as boccia, badminton, basketball and table tennis.

Sheffield International Venues (SIV) has teamed up with the Concord Heart Support Group, which is affiliated to the British Heart Foundation, to organise the event.

Dave Birds, exercise referral manager for SIV, which operates Concord Sports Centre, said: “This event aims to encourage people to get involved in physical activity later in life, particularly those who have suffered cardiac problems.

“With the London Olympic Games fast approaching we hope everyone, of all abilities, will be inspired to take part.

“After a heart attack, the last thing you may feel like doing is working out in a gym.

“The Cardiac Olympics are designed to be a gentle but motivating introduction to low intensity exercise with people who have experienced similar health problems.

“It’s a great opportunity to get your heart pumping, to meet cardiac experts and learn more about fitness activities in Sheffield.”

Earlier this year, Dave Birds received a Heart of the Community award for his work at Concord Sports Centre where he has helped more than a thousand people with long term medical conditions on their road to recovery.

Dave was also a Pride of Britain finalist and shortlisted for a Northern Sports Award.

Dave organised a similar event last year when 150 people took part.

Participant Elizabeth Curtis, aged 65, from Firth Park, said: “It was a very enjoyable event. The activities were really good, particularly for older people, and helped to get our joints going.”

This year’s event costs £2 to enter and all the money raised will go towards the Concord Heart Support Group, which helps sufferers of coronary heart disease.

The group was recently successful in its bid for £10,000 funding from the Lottery grants scheme, Awards for All, to extend its work.

The money is currently being used to fund a free gym membership project for children or dependents of coronary heart disease (CHD) sufferers.

More than 100, 12-week gym memberships and education sessions are still available to relatives or dependants of people who suffer CHD to help influence and reduce the risk factors associated with the disease.

The Concord Heart Support Group is hoping to recruit 165 people to take part in the country’s first anti-CHD pilot project, which will evaluate how exercise and lifestyle changes can successfully reduce the threat of CHD.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by a gradual build up of fatty deposits in the walls of your coronary arteries, which can then cause them to narrow.

Regular, gentle exercise and a healthy lifestyle is believed to help reduce CHD, although trials need to be done to prove this is the case.

Students from Sheffield Hallam University’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing will be conducting research, and evaluating the project.

If it’s successful, it is hoped the project will help people across the country and reduce the threat of coronary heart disease in the UK.

Anyone interested in taking part in the Cardiac Olympics, or the Heart Support Group research project, please contact Dave Birds at Concord Sports Centre on 0114 2574426 or email d.birds@sivltd.com for further information.

Stay active for a healthy heart

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK’s biggest killer, around one in five men and one in seven women die from the disease. CHD causes around 94,000 deaths in the UK each year.

In the UK, there are an estimated 2.6 million people living with the condition and angina (the most common symptom of coronary heart disease) affects 2 million people. CHD affects more men than women, and your chances of getting it increase as you get older.

Keeping your heart healthy also has other health benefits, and helps reduce the risk of stroke and dementia.