Older men in the Ballymena area have been getting sporty to help reduce their risk of heart disease thanks to a gant from Heart Research UK.
Local support group, the Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership, was awarded £4,500 to fund its ‘Sport for Over 50s’ project which encouraged men aged between 50 and 76 from Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus to join in sports sessions to improve their level of physical activity, and their mental and physical health.
Figures show that one in five men in Northern Ireland will die from heart disease before the age of 75.
Studies also prove that physical exercise can reduce premature death by 20-30% and chronic disease by 50%.
The project, which started in September last year, was based around sports which older men might like to get involved in such as golf, archery, squash, badminton and walking football.
Health checks, which were included in the grant, showed that 29% of men had high blood pressure, 18% suffered from high cholesterol and five GP referrals were made.
Some of the men changed their lifestyles after learning that eating healthy foods and taking part in regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Before attending the program, 94% noted that they were disengaged from regular group/community activity.
MEAAP Project Development Officer Deirdre McCloskey noted her thanks to Heart Research UK, she said: “Many of the men benefited from having a chance to talk about how they could improve their own Heart Health in a range of ways, and had the chance of a free mini health check. “The Walking Sports Programme was a fantastic way of encouraging older men to speak openly about their health and also to get health advice from the professionals.”
Heart Research UK National Director, Barbara Harpham, said: “It’s great that the Agewell Partnership have got these important messages across to men and they are now thinking about their heart health by being more active.
“The risk factors for heart disease increase as you get older so it is even more important that you make sure that you exercise and eat a healthy diet.”