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Junius Pierson, Chief, Office of Safety and Health, is encouraging District 7 employees to participate in the START! Heart Walk.

Association Hopes District 7 is All Heart in Supporting its Annual Walk
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 08/2009

District 7 to participate in the American Heart Associations' START! Heart Walk for the first time.

A silent killer stalks us, taking more lives each year than wars, car accidents and even cancer. This monster’s name? Heart disease. And how can it be stopped? First, you have to start.

“The new slogan promoting the Great American Heart Walk of 2009 is START!” says Junius Pierson, Chief, Office of Safety and Health. “The American Heart Association, which sponsors the annual Heart Walk as a fundraising opportunity, is encouraging everyone to START! improving their physical fitness by engaging in some type of activity, like walking.”

The great thing about walking, he adds, is that you don’t need any specialized equipment (other than the proper footwear). “It’s a simple physical activity that can boost your health and help you live longer.”

In fact, Pierson says, research shows that walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can not only reduce the risk of heart disease but can also: improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels; enhance mental well-being; reduce the risk of certain types of cancers; maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity; and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association, 65 million people suffer from such avoidable risks as high blood pressure; nearly 100 million have high cholesterol; 44 million people smoke; 136 million people are overweight; and almost 25 percent of the population are physically inactive.

This year’s Heart Walk will take place on October 3 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Los Angeles Heart Walk organization hopes to raise $1.3 million to support research in cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as educational programs. Director Doug Failing has set a $10,000 goal for District 7. “Employees can either make donations themselves or seek sponsors to donate to the American Heart Association,” Pierson says.

When you donate to the American Heart Association, you are supporting the largest voluntary health association working to prevent, treat and erradicate heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases attack millions of people of all ages and kill about 870,000 Americans each year, according to the association. American Heart Association research has led to such major advances as CPR, bypass surgery, artificial heart valves, pacemakers, anti-clotting drugs and high blood pressure medication. The association also is responsible for training more than nine million emergency medical services personnel, healthcare professionals and members of the public in Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

Pierson suggests that anyone interested in the START! Heart Walk go to the Heart Walk website, http://startwalkingnow.org/home.jsp for further information. The website contains information on how participants can get involved, an online tracker to assist in monitoring performance and other tools and information. “Anyone who wishes to make a donation or is able to obtain a sponsorship, should make sure that the donations are attributed to the Caltrans Team in order to monitor our effectiveness in meeting the District goal,” he adds.

Fund-raising activities in advance of the START! Heart Walk will be held at the District office, beginning on Tuesday, August 4, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Those who make a donation will receive a Gift Heart in their name as well as personal Heart Walk registration materials. For further information about this and other Heart Walk fundraising activities, contact Raashan Bernard or Loretta Crum.

In the meantime, get in shape by walking inside and around the District Office Building. Three laps around the building and eight laps on either the 7th or 8th floor exterior perimeters equals one mile.

“We want to promote wellness and physical fitness among the staff,” Pierson says.