City residents recently took to the streets, joining countless other communities nationwide in the quest for better health.
In celebration of National Walking Day, observed April 3, the American Heart Association joined forces with area businesses to encourage members of the local workforce to take the first step in becoming more physically active, by committing to take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. According to the AHA, adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week in order to decrease their risk of hypertension and enjoy other health benefits, such as improved bone health, better sleep and increased energy.
“It’s amazing what 150 minutes will do for you,” declared Mayor Allen Joines. “We know that over 50 percent of our population doesn’t get any exercise, and that will certainly impact blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and all of those things.”
Six Triad companies were slated to take part in the 2013 event, which was sponsored locally by TE Connectivity. More than 250 TE Connectivity employees signed up to take part in a 30-minute walk on the company’s grounds.
“TE Connectivity is proud to be a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day. Many of our employees regularly walk on our campus as part of our health and fitness program,” stated Shad Kroeger, senior vice president of Relay Products.
AHA Regional Community Leadership Team Captain Alvin Borders helped to coordinate the effort in Winston-Salem, which was launched near the Bryce Stewart Municipal Building on Wednesday.
“Our goal is just to bring recognition to the fact that people need to be physically fit and continue to stay vibrant,” Borders said.
Borders, who also serves as vice president and director of Workforce Development for the Winston-Salem Urban League, said he got involved with the American Heart Association about a year ago, when his gospel singing group, Exalted Praise, began distributing AHA fliers and information at the venues where they performed.
“The health disparity is in the African American community, sure enough,” said the father of six. “We felt like we had a responsibility to do more than sing, that’s why we’ve been giving out the (AHA) information.”
Borders says he knows first hand how easy it is to let your level of physical activity slip. He was inspired to take his own health into his own hands after climbing on the scale one day to discover that he had gained a significant amount of weight, almost without noticing. He has since begun exercising, and has lost nearly 50 pounds to date.
“I feel great. I really do. It feels great to be vibrant,” he said. “The walking led to the gym. I’ve been lifting weights – I hadn’t really done that since high school.”
Borders, a grandfather of three, believes his real-life struggle will resonate with the folks he is trying to encourage to incorporate more physical activity into their lives.
“I thought it was also interesting for somebody that’s not necessarily in shape to tell people that we can do this together,” he commented. “You are somebody that has been there and done that that’s telling people, ‘We can do this.’”
Reginald Clinton and Fred Moore were among those who took part in Walking Day downtown. Both men are members of Exalted Praise and AHA volunteers. Moore, a job developer for the Urban League, said he has enjoyed educating the community through Exalted Praise.
“We try to educate them on the sly,” he said of their audience, whom he said is receptive to the group’s message. “I don’t think people are ever rejecting Heart Association information. They desire to hear more, that is my sense.”
For Clinton, participating in the walk was the latest in a series of lifestyle changes he’s made as a result of being involved with the AHA.
“I’ve learned how important it is to keep up with your health,” he said.
Winston-Salem State University student Amber May manned the information table downtown last week. May, a senior healthcare management major and AHA intern, also helped organize a series of “Go Red for Women” heart disease awareness campaigns on campus in February.
“I think it’s a really necessary project in the community because we get an hour for lunch and if you take 30 minutes to walk, you can burn off some of those calories from lunch,” she said of Walking Day. “I heard a physician say doing your exercise is like brushing your teeth for your heart … so it’s important for me.”
Learn more at www.heart.org. Visit www.heart.org/nationalwalkingday.