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Added: Wed, 02/24/2016 - 11:06pm
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Every February, also known as Heart Month, a national campaign takes place to mobilize Canadians to rally together and raise awareness and funds for the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke. Today, heart disease and stroke take a life every seven minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. 
Although some risk factors are beyond our control - age, family history, gender, and ethnicity - we can combat the odds of developing the conditions by lifestyle and dietary changes. Aside from quitting smoking and eating healthier, being active reduces the risks of suffering from heart-related problems or stroke and also combats other risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. 
For women, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, simply engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week greatly reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s less than three hours of exercise per week, or less than 25 minutes per day.
The Pontiac offers residents plenty of opportunities to engage in activities that are fun and which allows them to be physically active, even during the winter months when many say there is not much to do. The Upper Pontiac, Shawville, Campbell’s Bay, Fort-Coulonge and other community rinks frequently have free
skating times during the week. Ski Pontiac in Bristol and Norway Bay, and Le Patro in Fort-Coulonge and Mansfield offer groomed and tracked trails for the public to enjoy on skis or snowshoes for free; they also host moonlight ski and snowshoe events throughout the winter. For those who do not own the necessary gear, it can be borrowed from either organization.
The Festival of Outdoor Rinks which took place at four Pontiac rinks offered free skating, sliding, and other winter activities over a three day period (See page 30).
The Bristol Carnival (page 8) included similar opportunities. The upcoming
Fort-Coulonge-Mansfield Carnival from February 25-28 features a variety of
activities for those young and old to be active for little to no cost.
These events and activities are only a snapshot of what the Pontiac has to offer. As an added benefit, both exercise and getting outdoors combat the winter blues. Talking yourself into venturing outside to engage in activities when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but with warm clothing and a little ambition, the decision is good for both your heart and soul!
Allyson Beauregard