Today, April 7, is National Start! Walking Day, an American Heart Association initiative that encourages all of us to bring our tennis shoes to work, lace ‘em up and take a 30 minute walk…not just today, but every day. How easy is that? The event also builds support for the annual and oh-so-fun Start! Heart Walk 5k fundraising walk slated for the fall. It’s one of the best ways to stay fit and spend time with family and friends while raising money to fight heart disease and stroke.
This morning marked my first AHA volunteer event for 2010. I woke up much earlier than usual, put on my figurative volunteer hat, battled 110 North traffic, and made it to downtown L.A.’s Union Bank at 7:30 a.m. to help AHA’s L.A. County Division set up for the kick-off Start! Walking Day celebration. It was so much fun! At 7:30 in the morning! I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, passion and adrenaline will kick you into high gear when you’re usually just rolling out of bed, wiping sleep from your eyes.
Back to the story: I along with other volunteers joined AHA staff in decorating the Union Bank outdoor plaza. We set up tables, posted directional signs, and layed down the movement’s iconic green footsteps to help guide the 1,000+ participants expected to arrive later that morning. And, like the Heart Champions’ Reception mentioned in the previous blog, this event connected me with with cool people, like Cal State L.A. students amped-up about supporting a good cause.
Though I couldn’t stay for the entire downtown kick-off extravaganza, when I got to work a group of us who usually walk separately decided to band together and walk as a team; it was one co-worker’s first time walking for lunch, which means I’ve done my job for the day. Gold star for Tinisha.
With cardiovascular disease being the #1 killer of Americans, walking just 30 minutes a day is the least we can do to reduce our risks. An AHA email I received suggests walking to lunch, having a walking meeting instead of meeting in stuffy conference rooms, and switching out smoking breaks for walking breaks. I’m no athlete, but I can and do walk 30 minutes 4 or 5 days out of the week. It’s relaxing, it’s me-time, and it’s good for my heart, which means it’s good for my family who’d like to keep me around as long as possible. (Muah, love you guys.)
I’m looking forward to the 2010 Los Angeles Start! Heart Walk on October 23 at the Rose Bowl. It was great fun last year, so I’ll be looking to expand my team this year. Stay tuned for details and my next AHA volunteer event that supports awareness and healthy hearts.