World Heart Day 2015: Creating a heart-shaped world

Today, World Heart Day, is the perfect day to remember that the mediator between head and hands must be the heart. Sure, in the 1927 film Metropolis the mediator was a Messiah-like figure who would bring the ruling and working classes together, but there is no reason that the maxim can be applied to actual heads, hands, and hearts. Just remember Aesop’s fable of The Belly and the Members; once again we can eschew the metaphor and focus on the literal meaning: if all the organs in our body are no in-sync, working like a finely tuned machine, the entire system will shot down. And the heart is, quite literally, at the heart of the matter.

This World Heart Day, whose theme is the creation of healthy heart environments, what the head plans and the hands make must be done in the best interests of the heart. The heart wants what it wants, and it sometimes wants healthy choices whether at home, at work, or during play. Fortunately, the World Heart Federation has found it in its heart to offer a few suggestions to improve the healthiness of our environments as well as decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Creating healthy heart options

At home

Food options

·         Limit pre-packaged food.

·         Eat fruits and vegetables.

·         Cook healthy lunches for school or work at home.


·         Ban smoking at home.

·         Quitting smoking at home improves your health and the health of those around you, and sets a good example for children.


·         Watching TV doesn’t count as an activity.

·         Instead, try cycling, hiking, walking, and other outdoor activities.

CVD risk

·         Have a doctor measure your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, and weight and body mass index.

·         Depending on your risk for CVD, devise a personalized plan with your doctor to improve your heart health. 

At work


·         Request that a smoking ban be implemented at work.

·         Ask your boss to help co-workers who wish to quit smoking.


·         Walk or cycle to work.

·         Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

·         Encourage walking competitions using a pedometer or a smart phone app.

·         Suggest using standing desks.


·         Urge schools, workplaces, hospitals and clinics to offer healthy, affordable food.


·         Stress related to smoking, drinking, and eating may contribute to CVD.

·         Take time during lunch to decompress from work; get some fresh air or exercise moderately.

·         Take periodical breaks to stretch or exercise for 5 minutes throughout the day.

At play


·         The World Health Organization says that children between the ages of 5 and 17 should be moderately-to-vigorously physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

·         Walk or cycle to school with your children.

·         Dancing or doing household chores do count as physical activity.

·         Set a 2-hour limit on watching TV, using the computer, and playing videogames.


·         If you’ve never exercised regularly, start small and increase progressively – shoot for 50 minutes or mild aerobic exercise during the week.

·         Consult your doctor before starting an exercise regime.

Best activities

·         Aerobic exercise; brisk walking, swimming, cycling.

·         Muscle strengthening exercises; stair climbing, walking uphill, digging in the garden.

·         Strengthening exercises; Tai-chi, yoga.


Remember that World Heart Day is not the only day to put the above suggestions into practice, but it is the best day to start – or at least as good a day as any. If you, like Neil Young, become a mine for a heart of gold in Emerald City, then the Great and Powerful Oz will surely grant you a heart like he did Tin Woodman. And if you remain constant, the results will not be as mixed as that metaphor.

Related: Are you having a May-December romance with your heart?