Join Americans across the country in National Start! Walking Day

04/07/2010

Laila Ali, world champion athlete and former professional boxer, is encouraging people to walk 30 minutes today as part of National Start! Walking Day.

From coast to coast, Americans will lace up their sneakers and take steps — literally — to increase physical activity when they participate in today’s events.

            National Start! Walking Day, in its fourth year — including more than 3.2 million people representing about 1,300 companies — is sponsored by the American Heart Association as part of its Start! initiative.  Start! champions walking because it has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.  The association conducts the National Start! Walking Day primarily in the workplace because jobs are becoming increasingly sedentary and Americans are working 164 more hours per year than 20 years ago.

 Ali is a natural choice of spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “I’ve always been interested in health and wellness, and I am honored to work with the American Heart Association, an organization dedicated to preventing heart disease,” said Ali, whose family has a history of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. “As a working mother, I have to fit my workouts in when I can.”

In January, the American Heart Association identified physical activity as one of seven key factors to achieve ideal cardiovascular health as part of its new 2020 goal to improve cardiovascular health and reduce deaths.

According to a recent American Heart Association study, only 15 percent of American adults achieve the association’s recommended levels of moderate aerobic exercise, 30 minutes a day for five days a week.

            “The importance of regular physical activity cannot be overstated,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association.  “Our latest research demonstrates that 70 percent of American adults report being told by a healthcare professional to make a lifestyle change and 33 percent of those were told to exercise more. Simply put, we all need to get up and do more.”

The American Heart Association recommends that all adults avoid inactivity. Walking vigorously for as little as 30 minutes, preferably most days of the week, can promote weight loss, decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the association said. Additional benefits occur as the amount and intensity of physical activity increases. Some adults also may gain up to two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular, vigorous physical activity, such as very brisk walking.

The American Heart Association’s robust Web site — startwalkingnow.org — includes strategies to help people get started and stay on a physical activity regimen. They include:

  • Local walking paths. To find one near you, visit startwalkingnow.org.
  • Three customized walking programs (beginner, intermediate and advanced)
  • Online tracking tools to document calories consumed, steps taken and routes walked
  • Sole mates social networking capabilities to find and support like-minded walkers
  • Downloadable seasonal walking guides with tips to maintain a routine regardless of weather
  • Walking videos, produced in collaboration with ExerciseTV, that make an at-home workout easier with tips and motivation
  • Social media daily walking guide with inspirational messages, heart-health tips of the day, video content from Exercise TV, community chat capability and a private journal

 About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, we’re the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases — America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers — we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit americanheart.org

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National START Walking Day April 7th

03/28/2010

 

Get Up and Move

These days, adults like you are spending more time at work than ever before. An unfortunate side effect is that, as a nation, we’re becoming more inactive. This is a problem when you consider the fact that physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease!

But take heart! It’s a problem you can help fix by convincing your company to take part in National Start! Walking Day.

On this day, employees are encouraged to wear sneakers to work and take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. It’s a great way to raise awareness of the Start! movement and to give your coworkers a friendly push toward a healthier life.

Get the Ball Rolling!

It’s pretty simple to get your company to participate in National Start! Walking Day. Start by having your HR representative or Worksite Wellness coordinator fill out the registration form to download a National Start! Walking Day toolkit for your company. It includes posters and signs you can use to set up walking paths around the office.

Visit http://startwalkingnow.org/about_start_walking_day.jsp For more information.


Survey shows Americans want to improve health but easily find excuses

01/08/2010

Although 58 percent of American adults have resolved to make improvements in their health this year, more than half say they often find reasons not to exercise, according to an American Heart Association survey. Excuses range from too much stress at work to having nothing to wear to simple procrastination.

The American Heart Association’s Start! initiative is introducing the Start! Daily Walking Guide, a FREE social media application that can get more Americans active and help them keep their health and physical activity resolutions. Nearly half of all Americans use online tools to track their health.

“The Start! Daily Walking Guide is the ideal tool to keep us committed to our New Year’s resolutions,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. “We spend 164 more hours per year at work than we did 20 years ago, and for many Americans that means lots of time on computers. This application allows you to keep track of your physical activity, see progress, find accountability and get great encouragement.”

The Start! Daily Walking Guide can be downloaded and embedded into a variety of sites including Facebook, Windows Live and iGoogle. Users get started with a quiz that generates 12 weeks worth of customized walking plans, a private journal section that lets users record their walks and reference archived exercises, and keep motivated with daily inspirational messages and heart-health tips.

Members can also chat with virtual “sole-mates” via the Start! Connections function. A previous Start! study revealed that American adults are 76 percent more likely to take a walk if another person is counting on them.

Heart disease and stroke are America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, despite being largely preventable though a healthy lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease claims nearly 865,000 lives a year and physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Physically active people reduce their cardiovascular disease risk by 30 percent. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, like brisk walking, each week. Download the Start! Daily Walking Guide at www.startwalkingnow.org.


2-Minute Wonders: Exercises Even You Can Find Time For

12/18/2009

from HealthyWomen’s e-newsletter, HealthyWomen Take 10

No time to exercise? That’s no longer a good enough excuse for skipping the physical activity we all need. Here are four great exercises you can do in two minutes or less each. Squeeze them in throughout your day:

1. When you’re at the supermarket, get your shopping cart and push it—empty—around the perimeter of the store before you begin shopping. If you’re used to a bit of exercise, wait until the cart is half-full and then push it around the store circuit. And don’t get side-tracked in the bakery section!

2. Use a stability ball to build strength safely while doing squats. Place the ball behind your back, against a wall. With hands on hips, bend your knees slowly, as far as is comfortable, then return to a standing position. (Don’t let your knees move past your toes.) As you do this exercise, the stability ball rolls along with you, making the movement easier. You can do this at home, in the gym or in the office—the stability ball makes a great chair as well and helps you burn a few more calories while you’re seated.

3. Boost your balance by stepping over a small plastic cone, soup can or child’s beach bucket. Stand about 6 inches behind the cone. Lift one leg and step over slowly, transferring weight to the front foot. Then lift the other leg and step over. Step back over the cone the same way, one leg at a time. Repeat 10 times. When this exercise becomes easy, add a side-stepping movement or increase the height of object until it is no more than 12 inches high.

4. If you live in a two-story house or an apartment building with several floors or you work in an office with a stairwell, you have all the equipment you need for a great two-minute workout. Climb those steps! When you do, you burn more calories per minute than when jogging and can get good cardiovascular benefits as well. Make multiple trips up and down at a moderate pace, breathe regularly and be sure to rest if you feel any discomfort. When using an enclosed, public-access staircase, you may want to bring an exercise buddy along for safety and companionship.

For more wellness tips, visit: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living

References

American College of Sports Medicine. “Selecting and Effectively Using Stability Balls.” http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=brochures2&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=8113. Accessed November 10, 2009.

The American Council on Exercise. “Function Follows Fitness.” http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/FunctionFitness.pdf. Accessed November 12, 2009.

Olander EK, Eves FF, Puig-Ribera A. “Promoting Stair Climbing: Stair-Riser Banners are Better Than Posters … Sometimes.” Preventive Medicine. 2008;46(4):308-310.

Teh KC, Aziz AR. “Heart Rate, Oxygen Uptake, and Energy Cost of Ascending and Descending the Stairs.” Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2002;34(4):695-699.

© 2009 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Walk or Bike to Work to Decrease Your Heart Attack Risk

08/21/2009

ride bike

Can walking to work or riding your bicycle really lower your risk for a heart attack?

The CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, published in July 2009 issue of Archive of Internal Medicine) study followed over 2,300 men and women and found that active commuting to and/or from work really did help lower heart disease risk factors.  Unfortunately only 16% of people in the study actually performed active commuting on a daily basis, more men than women.

Men who actively commuted had lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, lower blood pressures, better insulin levels, lower weights, and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

The number of women who participated in active commuting was too small to determine any significant health benefits but women who performed daily physical activity had healthier numbers.

Numerous factors may not make it feasible for you to walk or bike to your place of employment.  But we always like to say that even SMALL CHANGES can make a difference.  Try getting off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way to work.  If you have to drive to work, try parking your car further away from the door, which would allow some extra steps.  Take a walk at lunch time.  All Activity Counts!

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and heart failure.  “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009.  For more info visit www.heart-strong.com