I don’t know about you but I am so not ready for bikini season! Well, actually, I’m NEVER ready for swimsuit season! I strongly suspect that some of you feel the same trepidation that I do as I watch the temperature gauge rise on a daily basis signaling the start of summer. Despite the obvious disadvantage of having to bite the bullet and put this body into a swimsuit, summer is a perfect time to ramp up your workout routine with an eye to getting not only the body you want but a leaner, trimmer, healthier heart as well.
To help you on the journey to a more beautiful heart (along with a more swimsuit ready body), the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have teamed together in a unique program called Hearts N’ Parks. A nation-wide community-based program, Hearts N’ Parks is geared towards reducing the ever growing obesity problem in the US and putting a lid on heart disease (coronary artery disease – CAD). Hearts N’ Parks encourages Americans to get active, maintain a healthy weight, and exchange their super-sized eating habits for healthy (normal portion sized) eating. The American Dietetic Association has even jumped on the bandwagon and is lending their dietary wisdom to the program.
If unhealthy eating habits were a disease, then we’d have an epidemic on our hands here in the United States. As it is, our eating habits have created a nation of swimsuit avoiding couch potatoes. In the last twenty years, the number of persons considered obese in the United States has doubled. Almost two-thirds of the people in the U.S. (64 percent) are either overweight or obese. That’s a lot of couch potatoes! The more we stay indoors glued to the wonderful world of TV, the more the problem grows – literally around our tummies and thighs and of course, in hidden layers of fat around our hearts and arteries as well. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.
So, how can Hearts N’ Parks help? The Hearts N’ Parks program offers a variety of heart healthy services and programs. Whether you’re looking for education or exercise, you’ve come to the right place. Individual classes may range from informational sessions about diet and nutrition or heart disease, to “smart heart” trails in local parks (designed to give your heart a great workout), to kickboxing, to yoga and all kinds of heart healthy fun activities in-between. Hearts N’ Parks caters to everyone – elderly, children, middle-aged, disabled, all socio-economic demographics and cultures.
One of the best parts of the Hearts N’ Parks program is that for most of us, these programs are accessible. It’s estimated [by NRPA] that most Americans live near a public park. In fact, 75 percent of us have to look no farther than two miles to find a public park. (That’s about a 30-40 minute walk in case you were wondering - absolutely perfect warm up to a Hearts N’ Park activity.) The program is mature (started in 1999) and activities are provided on an ongoing regular basis and tailored to the needs of the individual community.
So, if you’re looking for a more beautiful, healthy heart, while having fun in the process, check out your local Hearts N’ Parks program. Along with a healthy heart, you just might get that swim suit body you’ve been dreaming about!
Until next time, here’s wishing you a healthy heart.
For more information about Hearts N’ Parks programs or becoming a Hearts N’ Parks community, contact the NHLBI Health Information Center at:
E-mail: [email protected]
About Hearts N’ Parks, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute,
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