Employees Stepping Their Way to Healthy Hearts
If you spot St. Luke's employees taking the stairs and parking in the far corner of the lot over the next six weeks, don't be surprised.
One in four employees (about 700 in total) is wearing a pedometer and taking part in the second St. Luke's Step to a Healthy Heart Challenge, forming teams to compete for the title of the team with the highest average number of steps per week. The winning team in February will receive a three-month membership to St. Luke's gym and the traveling trophy – a giant red cuddly heart.
"We never dreamed we would get this kind of participation – it's exciting to see it happen," said Julie Clark, cardiac services manager.
The challenge coincides with American Heart Month in February and national Wear Red Day on February 7. It is all part of the drive to raise awareness of heart health, and the challenge aims to encourage higher levels of walking, a form of exercise with great heart benefits.
"The challenge does a couple of things that are very helpful," said Dr. James Mohn, St. Luke's cardiologist, who is taking part in the challenge. "It encourages people to walk for exercise and also shows them how small changes in daily activities can add up to larger changes in healthy lifestyle. Walking is an activity that requires no additional equipment; it's simple and it's easy. As a form of aerobic exercise, it seems to have similar benefits to more vigorous exercise."
The first St. Luke's Healthy Heart Challenge was held in 2012, when 600 employees took part, walking 126,389,962 steps over seven weeks. The challenge was won by a team from the ICU.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The American Heart Association recommends a person should walk about 10,000 steps. per day (about five miles). The average person takes about 3,000-5,000 steps a day.
- For every hour of walking, you may increase your life expectancy by two hours.
- Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits.
- Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health.
- Physically active people save an average of $500 a year in health care costs.
(Source: American Heart Association)
For more great tips on how to stay active (and your step count up!) during the winter, click here for the American Heart Association's Cold Weather Fitness Guide.