April 8th is National Start! Walking Day. A program started through the American Heart Association this year but they hope it turns into a movement. We went to the Avera Heart Hospital where dozens of employees were walking laps instead of hitting drive-throughs.
These Avera Heart Hospital employees jumped at the chance today to take part in the American Heart Association's National Start! Walking Day. Other employers should take heart because research shows they will be helping the companies by encouraging employees to take a walk.
Jen McKeown is the Communications Director of the American Heart Association of the Dakotas. She says, "If an employee becomes physically active, studies show they can save $500 on health care expenses which usually comes out of the Employers' pocket. So they take fewer sick days and possibly increase productivity because they're exercising and feel good about themselves."
Being in the health care industry, these folks already know that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day reduces their risk for heart disease and stroke.
Lindsey Meyers is the Marketing/Community Relations Director for the Avera Heart Hospital. She is also on their Employee Wellness Committee. She says, "We think it's important to promote a work/life balance. We want people to walk during their lunch hour and get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity every day . We have an organized walk-at-work day once a month, but we really want people to try and do some sort of physical activity everyday. If our hearts aren't healthy we can't care of other peoples hearts."
When you think about it, most of us spend more time at work than we do at home so it makes sense to exercise while you're at work. Leave a pair of tennis shoes at work and walk over your lunch hour or head outside when it's nice. Research has long shown people are far more likely to stick with an exercise regiment if someone else is counting on them so the experts suggest getting a walking buddy or gym partner. Walking also has the lowest dropout rate of any other physical activity.
Peggy Hofmeister has worked at the Avera Heart Hospital for 8 years. She works in the finance department. She tries to walk a half hour every day. She says, " I want to tell others it's a great thing to do, even if it's only for 10 minutes, just to get up and get away from your desk and go for a walk. If it's a really nice day we go outside but if it's too windy hey why mess up the hair and stay inside."
The Heart Association hopes you take a more active role in your health. Start moving now and keep at it for a lifetime. It will prolong your life.