Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April EVP letter: Physical activity

Dear Friend of Heart:

I have a challenge for you.

Should you choose to accept this challenge, you could add years to your life – and life to your years. It’s not easy, and it requires dedication, but it is worth it.

So here it is. This spring, I challenge you to increase your physical activity level to at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. The American Heart Association says making this one behavior change can significantly lower your risk for the No. 1 killer in America, cardiovascular disease. You can also improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy.

“Regular physical activity is an effective lifestyle intervention that improves cardiovascular health,” says longtime American Heart Association volunteer, Dr. Barry Franklin, Director of Preventive Cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. “It boosts your exercise capacity; reduces stress and anxiety; strengthens immunity; increases blood circulation; reduces cholesterol levels; helps prevent or manage high blood pressure; and improves your overall well-being. Because low-fit people are approximately two- to five-times more likely to die prematurely than their more fit counterparts, regular exercise can provide huge benefits for inactive individuals.”

We all know that the biggest barriers to getting enough exercise are time and motivation. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week may be too much for you at first. The American Heart Association says something is better than nothing, and it’s OK to start slow. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your duration over time. Or you can break up your physical activity to two or three 10- or 15-minute intervals a day. You’ll still receive the great heart-health benefits listed above. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.

The American Heart Association is here to help. Our new platform, My Heart. My Life., brings the association’s expertise in physical fitness and nutrition to you through comprehensive programs, tools and resources. From local walking path and walking club finders to food and fitness trackers, My Heart. My Life. will help your family develop lifelong healthy habits. Visit to learn more.

Are you up for the challenge? I will be watching for you when I’m on the bike trails this spring!

Warm regards,

Kevin D. Harker
Executive Vice President, Midwest Affiliate

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