Heart research UK funds medical research to treat and cure heart disease, provides grants for community lifestyle projects and gives advice.
As a former world light heavyweight champion, Paul “Silky” Jones knows more than most about the importance of keeping fit.
Now the 47-year-old retired boxer is urging other men around his age to ensure their heart remains healthy.
As an ambassador for Leeds-based national charity Heart Research UK, he is aiming to prevent middle-aged men from developing heart disease.
This group are more likely to have a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, poor diet, and obesity – which all contribute to the illness.
Paul, who is now based in Leeds, does regular talks promoting fitness and health.
He says that traditional boxing training can be an easy way for men to stay in shape.
“Skipping for just 10 minutes a day can increase your heart rate and improve your fitness, and is a simple, low-cost exercise that anyone can do.
“I want people to use National Heart Month, during February, to think more seriously about their health and fitness, and skipping is a good exercise to achieve this.
“It is very easy early in the New Year to slip back into a routine that doesn’t include exercise and healthy eating.
“Just small amounts of activity like walking and taking the stairs instead of the lift can improve your fitness and make a big difference to your heart health – but using a skipping rope will help too.”
Paul has draw up some tips to help men stay healthy:
Know your baseline – how fit are you?
How pumped up is that spare tyre around your middle? How’s your blood pressure? Being aware of where you’re starting from will not only help you start exercising at the right level, but also help you see how much you progress.
Invest in a good quality skipping rope. Find a space in the garden, patio, garage, house or at the gym and start with small sets, slowly increasing the number of skips you do, reducing your resting time in between sets. Skip forwards, backwards, on one leg then the other and then try the double skips and cross over ones as a bigger challenge. All great boxers rely on skipping, it’s a great way to get that heart pumping faster and burn calories while using many muscles in your body.
Get some good shoes and all weather gear, though nothing fancy or expensive is needed. Build up your pace, distance, then add some steps or hills and change the terrain (such as a cross country trek). Always go for that bit extra but without knocking yourself out. Walking a fit dog will ensure you exercise regularly whatever the weather.
Ditch the couch
Try brisk walking during your commute, at lunchtime, or as soon as you get home and at the weekends. Every little bit will help you kick your system into shape and start building up your fitness so you’re ready to go onto the bigger stuff.
Ease yourself off that sofa by doing some DIY, decorating, housework, window cleaning, gardening or car washing – these won’t turn you into a triathlon runner overnight but they’re all part of being a “mover” rather than a “sitter” and will be much better for your heart health.
Start jogging and running between lamp posts and then walking in between the next set. It’ll be tough at first but you’ll soon be able to run for longer and further. By doing short bursts flat out you’ll improve your fitness quicker too.
Don’t be a heavyweight with your eating
A session burning calories doesn’t mean carte blanche to extra takeaways, pints or high-calorie snacks. Match your fitness regime with a healthy balanced diet with lean sources of protein, healthy fats and plenty of fruit and vegetables and wholegrains – become a fit ‘featherweight’ that’s tuned into what’s best for you and your body.
Set yourself a goal or reward. Think of a challenge that would show you how your fitness has progressed – how about the Yorkshire or National Three Peaks? A race like the Great North Run, a local 5K or 10K? Think big to a triathlon or marathon or big cycle ride. Then plan how you can reward yourself.