Rebecca Wright, registered dietitian at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, speaks to the Murray Half Marathon Training Program participants about healthy eating choices for runners. The program prepares runners, joggers and walkers for the annual half marathon sponsored by the MCCH Endowment for Healthcare, scheduled for April 13.
Although lover’s day has already passed, American Heart Month is still in full swing and health officials say it’s never too late to start caring for heart health.
As heart disease remains the leading cause of death across the nation, health-care professionals stress the importance physical activity can play in reducing risk factors and promoting a healthier heart. And it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block.
According to the American Heart Association, as little as 30 minutes a day/five days a week of heart-rate increasing physical activity can help get the heart pumping and turn the tables on cardiovascular and other health issues.
Taking that recommendation one step further, community members and hospital employees at Murray-Calloway County Hospital have laced up their running shoes and set out on the road to promote healthy lifestyles as part of a training program for the MCCH Endowment for Healthcare Murray Half Marathon, Relay and 5k in April.
The 12-week program seeks to prepare the group of about 50 participants for the 13.1-mile course by incrementally increasing run distances to build up the body’s physical acuity during the weeks leading up to the half marathon.
“Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises, and most people can do it,” said Keena Miller, director of the Center for Health and Wellness at MCCH. “It doesn’t take a lot of equipment, and a lot of our communities are runner friendly.”
Physical activity like running or simple walking can help boost a number of bodily functions. Regular physical activity improves blood circulation — cutting down on heart disease — and manages blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, increases muscle strength and helps delay chronic illnesses.
The heart association estimates that for every hour of regular physical activity exerted, a person can gain about two additional hours of life expectancy, and reduce the risk of stroke by about 20 to 30 percent in moderate to highly active people.
“There are numerous health benefits even if you’re not running a half marathon,” Miller said. “Regular physical activity is key in reducing the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.”
People can inquire about the Murray Half Marathon, scheduled for April 13, or the training program by contacting the MCCH Center for Health and Wellness at 270-762-1348.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676 or follow @WCPinkston on Twitter.