A MAN forced to retire after suffering a heart attack is now the face of a health campaign calling on the borough's older residents to start taking exercise more seriously.

Volunteer walk leader Colin Campbell, 63, who is still recovering, leads groups of more than ten residents in power-walks across the borough to improve their fitness and reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

The 30-minute walks which start at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre, in Philip Lane, and end in Downhills Park, are conducted at a 'moderate intensity' to raise the heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

If carried out three times a week at the same pace, the walks can have a positive impact on the general health of adults aged over 50.

Mr Campbell, of Edmonton, who has led the walks for the past year-and-a-half, said: "We all have to start taking regular exercise more seriously — that's why I do these walks.

"I always believed I was fit and didn't need to exercise, but I was wrong. Both my arteries were blocked and I had a heart attack. My life changed completely.

"After my initial recovery, I returned to work but had to give up my job as a site manager at a primary school because there was a risk it would have placed too much pressure on my heart.

"Now I try to help other people and encourage them to get fit before they get to stage I was at. I hear people say, 'I walk everyday', but when you break it down it's only five or ten minutes of exercise when you need at least 30."

Mr Campbell is one of a team of volunteers, accredited by Natural England, who are encouraging residents to walk as part of the Go London campaign, an NHS initiative to increase the fitness of Londoners in the run-up to 2012 and works in partnership with local councils.

Walking convert Evelyn Lowe, 67, of Stamford Hill, said: "I had a heart attack and my doctor practically forced me to come to these walks as part of my heart rehab.

"Now, I enjoy it. I feel much better in myself and I have met new people. Back home in Jamaica, people are outdoors more and they are used to staying active. My mother-in-law came to stay and everyday she was sweeping without fail — whether or not anything needed sweeping."

A Go London roadshow will set up shop at The Mall, in High Road, Wood Green, between Monday, March 15, and Sunday, March 21, to give residents more information about keeping fit.

To find out about local Health Walks in your area contact the ‘Active for Life’ Team on 020 8489-5326/5320 or email activeforlife@haringey.gov.uk