A scheme designed to encourage participants to improve their cardiac health officially began today. 

Wessex Heartbeat originally trialled its 12 Week Healthy Heart Challenge’ last year, with around 40 people from the souths business community taking part - with small, achievable steps each week to improve their health. 

Collectively, the group lost more than 12 stone and average cholesterol dropped from 4.4 to 4.1. The groups glucose readings also went down and almost everyone maintained or dropped points on the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale.  

The scheme was deemed such a success - with results showing significant health benefits - that now people living across the region are being invited to sign up. 

"Evidence from last years trial of the scheme shows promising evidence that making small and achievable steps can make a big difference to overall cardiac health." - Wessex Heartbeat chief executive John Munro. 

The scheme begins with a health check from Wessex Heartbeats cardiac nurses, checking everything from participants’ weight and cholesterol to blood pressure and BMI.  

They will then be set a new achievable challenge to complete each week - like drinking 2-3 litres of water a day or walking a certain number of steps, via a private Facebook group and blog.

The challenge is for everybody, at any and all levels of fitness, we want to help people improve their health at their own pace. And we have teamed up with Brightside PT, whose experts will be offering the very best nutrition and fitness advice." - John Munro  

Although now in it's second year, this is the first time that Wessex Heartbeat have brought the challenge out to the public, with its original "pilot" only going to corporate supporters of the charity. Supporters and people interested in taking part can expect the initiative to react to any feedback this year, with aims to eventually create a world class service that will help the community get on track to improving their heart health.

At Wessex Heartbeat, we know the more we can educate people early on about living a healthy lifestyle, the more we can stop people contracting avoidable heart conditions. At the end of the 12 week challenge, not only will our participants’ heart health have improved, but they will have created the foundation to go on and live a better and healthier life.

Registration for the challenge is currently closed, but keep an eye out for any updates on the next iteration of the initiative.