Meet Leo and the Pacemakers – a very special walking group

By June Shannon Heart News   |   23rd Sep 2019

Every Tuesday morning a very special band of walkers meet to walk their way to better heart health

The Naas Pacemakers is a walking group made up of people who, as the group’s name suggests, have one particular thing in common, they have all suffered a cardiac event.

The group was established by Leo Cluxton from Athgarvan in Co Kildare, who suffered a heart attack a little over 12 months ago in June 2018.

Leo explained that he had been suffering from chest pain for a number of days and when he went to see the GP, he was immediately referred to Naas General Hospital. From there he was sent to the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin where he underwent emergency operation to have a stent fitted in his heart. A few hours later he was back in Naas General and was discharged home the next day.

For Leo exercise was central to his recovery and he attended a cardiac rehab programme in Naas General Hospital which he greatly enjoyed.

When he successfully completed the eight-week cardiac rehab programme, Leo felt he wanted to continue with his exercise so when he was invited to take part in the Irish Heart Foundation Walkers’ Leader Training in conjunction with the Kildare Sports Partnership, he jumped at the idea and never looked back.

On completion of the walking training he decided to set up his own walking group and recruited members via the Heart 2 Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy Gym in Kildare, of which he was a member.

I reckoned I was in a very good club, people who have had a heart attack or heart event,” Leo said.

" I reckoned I was in a very good club, people who have had a heart attack or heart event,”

Leo Cluxton, Walking Group Leader

In February this year the group met for the first time and more than six months later they are still going strong.

In fact, eight of its members were recently presented with gold pins from the Irish Heart Foundation for completing 500 km, individually, over a period of just six months.

Walking is one of the simplest ways to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Coupled with encouraging and supporting people living in the aftermath of a cardiac condition to keep active, the Naas Pacemakers also acts as an important social outlet and peer support programme for members, as the weekly walk is always followed by a welcome cup of tea and a chat.

Leo said he would encourage everyone who has suffered from any form of cardiovascular illness to try, if possible, to get out walking or join a local walking group.

“I think its essential that people who have any sort of incident in their lives, heart or surgical or whatever, should be encouraged to get out walking. It’s the cheapest and easiest form of exercise. It’s perfect,” he said.

Regular walking has obviously worked wonders for Leo as he says he is healthier now than he was two years ago before his heart attack.

“I am absolutely flying,” he smiled.

The Naas Pacemakers meet every Tuesday morning at 10am opposite the Vista Health Centre beside Naas General Hospital. New members are always welcome.

“ I think its essential that people who have any sort of incident in their lives, heart or surgical or whatever, should be encouraged to get out walking,"

Leo Cluxton, Walking Group Leader

Escape your chair

This September, The Irish Heart Foundation is encouraging everyone to sit less and move more with its month long heart health campaign entitled, ‘Escape Your Chair’.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of prolonged sitting as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Higher levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with a 147 per cent increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke. There is increasing evidence that the positive health benefits of exercise may not entirely counteract the negative effects of a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

As part of its #EscapeYourChair heart month campaign, the Irish Heart Foundation has created a range of resources to help people move more and sit less. These include, an online sitting time calculator, a Deskercise video, a Move More Walking Challenge, a Couch to 5k guide, as well as expert tips and advice on how to increase physical activity levels. These are available at www.EscapeYourChair.ie.

On Saturday, September 28th at 9.30am, the Irish Heart Foundation is encouraging everyone to walk, jog, or run at their local parkrun for the Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Heart Hero 5K’ in association with parkrun Ireland. To encourage and everyone to get involved, the Irish Heart Foundation is providing a number of different training guides and plans.

(It is important to check with your doctor before you commence any new exercise programme)

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cardiovascular diease heart attack heart disease heart hero parkwalk stroke walking walking group

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