A NEW scheme has been created to encourage participants to improve their cardiac health.

The 12-Week Healthy Heart Challenge, organised by Wessex Heartbeat, which is based in Southampton, was trialled last year, with around 40 people from the south’s business community taking part, and will begin on April 8.

The group took part in small, achievable steps each week to improve their health, losing more than 12 stone collectively.

The scheme was deemed a success, with results showing significant health benefits, and people across Hampshire and the south region are being encouraged to sign up.

Wessex Heartbeat chief executive John Munro said: “Evidence from last year’s trial of the scheme shows promising evidence that making small achievable steps can make a big difference to overall cardiac health.

“As well as inviting local business representatives to take part in the 12-Week Healthy Heart Challenge from April 8, we’re rolling the scheme out to the wider community.

“It’s an incredibly worthwhile initiative and we will be supporting participants throughout.”

The scheme will begin with a health check from Wessex Heartbeat’s cardiac nurses, checking everything from weight and cholesterol to blood pressure and BMI.

The participants will then be given a new achievable challenge each week, such as drinking 2-3 litres of water a day, or walking a certain number of steps.

John Munro added: “The challenge is for everybody, at any and all levels of fit-ness.

“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.

“At Wessex Heartbeat, we know the more we can educate people early 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.”