WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
(From right) Dennis Rittenberry, Larry Hamilton, Rey Shrewsberry and Louis Michelson, all treated for cardiovascular issues, leads the pack of health care professionals on a lap around Western Baptist Hospital as part of Start! Walking Day Wednesday. The walk encourages people to start exercising to promote their cardiovascular health.
WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
(From Left) Walk chairman Louis Michelson, Rey Shrewsberry, Larry Hamilton and Dennis Rittenberry, all recipients of cardiovascular treatment, take part in the Start! Walking Day at Western Baptist Hospital Wednesday. Health care workers say generally 2 hours of life expectancy is gained for every 1 hour of exercise.
With every thump of the foot comes another pump from the heart, so as frequent walkers rack up the miles, it’s not just their legs getting a beneficial workout.
As Americans fall into an increasingly sedentary lifestyle at work and at home, the simple practice of taking a daily 30-minute walk can turn the tables on cardiovascular and other rising health issues. Research has even started to show that a simple, daily walk can increase a person’s life expectancy by two years, said Jamie Smith, American Heart Association division director.
“We’re sitting in our offices all day, and we hardly move at all,” she said. “We’re so tied to our computers, that’s why we’re going to work forces and asking them to allow their employees to walk.”
Teaming with Western Baptist Hospital, the heart association’s Start walking program invited health care workers, patients and members of the community to walk the nearly one-mile outdoor track around the hospital’s campus Wednesday, as a way to educate the community of the benefits of regular exercise, said registered nurse Theresa Cash, director of cardiovascular services at Western Baptist Hospital.
In addition to managing weight, routine walking and exercise lowers the risk of heart disease; improves blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels; reduces the risk of breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and hip fractures; enhances mental well-being; and improves sleep, Cash said.
While any physical activity can be beneficial to the body, Smith said walking has the smallest drop-out rate of most workouts, and developing such a routine could serve as a first step toward other exercises.
Louis Michelson, community chairman of the program, joined the growing ranks of walkers around the track, as he also had suffered from heart issues in the past. Having bypass surgery 11 years ago, Michelson said it’s imperative for people to consider their heart health.
“The more aware people become about the health of their heart, the better everybody will be,” he said.
“More people are surviving longer because of the advances in technology and because people are trying to take care of themselves more with healthier decisions like exercising and diets, but walking remains one of the best things you can do.”
Call Will Pinkston, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.