Did you know that there’s one exercise that’s free, has the lowest drop-out rate of any physical activity, and just one hour a day can add two hours to a person’s life? Yes, I am talking about walking and this week, the American Heart Association launched “Start!“, a national campaign for individuals and employers to get people moving.
Supported by sponsors like Astra Zeneca, HealthyChoice and Subway, the Start! Walking Program is a literal wake-up call to Americans to start incorporating a regular exercise program into their daily lives. Walking – the brisk, heart-rate-raising kind – has numerous benefits other than weight-management, including the lowering of bad-cholesterol(LDL)-levels and high-blood-pressure while also reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Start! has something for both individuals and employers and is built around four key elements to help Americans live longer, heart-healthy lives:
- MyStart! Online, a Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker, is the hub for a walking program that offers constant, measurable, personal improvement.
- The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program officially recognizes employers that champion the health of their employees and work to create a culture of physical activity in the workplace. The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program has several key aspects to help companies embrace a culture of physical activity and wellness.
- The Start! Walking Program encourages companies to promote walking at work and recognize and reward employees who move from a sedentary to a more active lifestyle. It is a key component for removing a significant barrier to regular exercise for millions of American workers.
- A reinvigorated Start! Heart Walk, the American Heart Association’s premier fund-raiser, gives people an opportunity to improve their health through walking while helping fund the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Start! for Individuals is where a person can begin by creating an online profile for oneself called My Start! Online. The free online tool helps you enter your activities and what you ate for the day and gives you reports so you can adjust your balance of calories in vs out. You get to learn about the benefits of walking and how to get started on a walking program in the Start! Moving section which also includes a list of calories burned from various comparable activities (did you know that for the same amount of time, you burn more calories walking at 5mph than when using a push mower?!).
Finally, Start! Eating Right describes easy ways to make healthy choices like using at least as many calories as you take in and a guide on buying healthful foods when you shop next.
As a big proponent of making it easier for employees to incorporate fitness into their work schedule, I like the Start! for Employers program which encourages employers to set an example by making health a fitness and priority at the workplace, thereby increasing productivity and, more importantly, reducing the cost of healthcare. Start! Moving for Employers reveals encouraging studies that show the benefits of having a fitness program at work (for every $1 the average company spends on its worksite wellness program, it receives an average net benefit of $3.40 to $7.88!).
Companies can even sign-up for the “Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program” which awards employers for their commitment to increasing fitness awareness among its employees and making the workplace more amicable to individual efforts. These include things like providing a fitness center at work (and the time to use it!), walking trails around the company and healthful choices in the cafeteria menu.
All in all I think this effort is a step in the right direction although the success of any such program relies on the motivation of both individuals and employers to make a positive change in their lives. With problems like obesity and diabetes becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, we can use all the help we can get to help combat them.
Get Start!ed today.
[tags]health, fitness, nutrition, american heart association, start! walking program[/tags]