If you did not know, February is American Heart Month. This wellness blog will give your department some statistics regarding the prevalence of heart disease in our communities, as well as some program ideas to help combat the problem.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death from American men and women - with 1 in 4 deaths each year being attributed to it. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 735,000 people each year suffer a heart attack.
Heart disease is commonly known to be associated with a variety of risk factors, including stress, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and poor diet. Although there are additional risk factors such as family history and heart valve issues, the majority of these factors are controllable by individual lifestyle changes. This is where your department can make a huge difference.
One strategy to prevent heart disease, as recommended by the CDC, is to maintain a healthy physical activity level. The surgeon general recommends two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity for adults.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also an effective strategy in preventing heart disease. The CDC suggests limiting sodium and sugar in your diet and increasing the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. For ideas regarding creating healthy eating programs in your community, please check out our November Wellness Webinar.
All of our recreation and park departments offer many opportunities for adults to get out and get active. Although it may seem like common sense that physical activity can help to prevent heart disease, some individuals may need an extra push to get started. Spread the word in your community that your facilities and programs can help in the fight against heart disease!
One way to spread the word in your community is to post flyers around your facilities detailing the issue of heart health. Make sure to include recommendations to improve heart health, including physical activity and the programs/facilities you offer to achieve this.
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services created a Toolkit to help raise awareness about American Heart Month. It contains great resources to share with your respective communities, including sample social media tweets, infographics to share in community spaces, and ideas to get your workplace involved.
Your department could also suggest specific programs targeted towards improving heart health. Existing physical activity and healthy eating programs could be advertised with an emphasis on the heart healthy aspects they provide. In program guides, a simple “heart” icon can be placed next to said programs to allow them to be easily accessible.
A number of departments offer their staff the opportunity to become CPR and AED certified. If your department does not offer this training (or hasn’t in some time), American Heart Month is a great time to consider. The skills taught in a training course like this could help save someone’s life. To find your local American Red Cross, as well as instructors in your area, please click this link.
I hope that this wellness blog post has gotten you thinking about the issue of heart disease in our society. Whether you know it or not, your department likely already offers a program or facility that will help combat against this issue.
Until next time,