World Heart Day is on 29 September
by Tim Scott (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to appreciate the importance of maintaining healthy hearts.
Preparation and materials
You will need the Heart IQ test available at: http://worldheartday.org/ and the means to run the test during the assembly.
Further information about World Heart Day is available at: http://worldheartday.org
Explain that World Heart Day happens on 29 September every year. The day is intended to raise awareness of the importance of keeping our hearts healthy.
Ask the students to guess how many times their heart beats each day. (The correct answer is about 100,000 times.)
Ask the students to guess how many litres of blood their heart pumps around their body each day. (The correct answer is about 23,000 litres.)
The World Heart Day website offers a Heart IQ test that you can take to find out how much you know about your heart. Explain that you are going to read out each question and its possible answers. Then, you will take a vote as to the correct answer and enter it into the test.
The test will tell you immediately whether your answer is correct. The feedback will give a further explanation of the answer given.
World Heart Day aims to inspire us to make some small changes that can make a big difference to our health and subsequent success at school (www.worldheartday.org).
The World Heart Federation claims that each year more than 17.5 million premature deaths occur from heart disease and strokes. These could be avoided if the main risk factors – tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – were controlled.
Heart disease and strokes are the leading cause of death worldwide each year. A healthy heart is vital for living life to the full, regardless of age and gender. Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and smoking are the leading causes of heart disease and strokes. The unhealthy lifestyles that lead to cardiovascular disease often begin in childhood and adolescence, so the prevention of heart disease must begin early.
Most of us spend over half of our waking hours working. Therefore, a workplace that encourages healthy habits can reduce our risk of many diseases, including heart disease and strokes. If we all have healthier hearts, we will have a healthier school.
Ask students if they know how to live healthily. Responses may include the following.
- Being physically active during your day. Just 30 minutes of activity a day can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Keep a food diary and see whether there is anything you need to add or remove from your diet.
- Using less salt and avoiding processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt.
- Saying no to tobacco and not smoking means that your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is important. Weight loss, especially together with lowered salt intake, leads to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes and a major factor for half of all heart disease and strokes.
- Learning how to deal with stress and anxiety by having a forgiving attitude will be highly beneficial.
If you have time, you could demonstrate how much salt is contained in common foods. The recommended intake of salt is 6g per day. Show the students how to read nutritional labels on food packaging. Also, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3029589.stm and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a graph detailing the salt levels of popular food.
World Heart Day’s slogan for taking action in protecting your heart is, ‘Power your life. Know your risk. Fuel your heart. Move your heart. Love your heart.’
Did you know that being unable to forgive damages our relationships, accelerates the ageing process, causes anxiety and depression and contributes to heart disease by raising blood pressure and robbing us of our zest for life? People who forgive experience increased self-esteem and reduced anxiety. Therefore, stopping ourselves from dwelling on the past by living in the present, controlling our thoughts about the future and forgiving quickly is a great strategy for life.
Today, why not ask yourself, ‘Who do I need to forgive?’ Then, go ahead and forgive that person as soon as you can.
Time for reflection
‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the spring of life.’ (Proverbs 4.23)
One of the few things that everyone has in common – irrespective of their country, culture or working environment – is that we can each take steps to be more heart-healthy.
There is a lot we can do to keep our hearts healthy, whatever our age.
If a surgeon was to take a look at your heart, would he or she find it healthy?
If God or someone else was to look at your heart, in the sense of your character, conduct and motivations, what would they find?
Help us to see that our daily habits determine our future health and happiness.
Thank you for our amazing bodies, especially for our hearts that keep us alive.
Help us to guard our hearts, by keeping healthy
And finding happiness in our relationships with our families and friends.