Don't let this summer's heat melt your resolve to be physically active. There are ways to stay motivated - and safe - all summer.
According to the American Heart Association, it's best to pick a time that you can regularly commit to all summer. It's also best to avoid walking early in the afternoon, when the sun is at its strongest and you're at the greatest risk for heat stroke. You can also walk in the mall, join a gym or walk in a building at work. Wear sunscreen, light clothing, and well-ventilated shoes. Drink a few cups of water before and after you walk. Take regular breaks in the shade. And don't forget to stretch before and after your walk.
The American Heart Association encourages walking - ideally for at least 30 minutes a day - because it's free, accessible and easy. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. It also helps combat obesity, a major risk factor for heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer.
One great opportunity for walking is to participate in the Red River Valley Start! Heart Walk on September 11, at Rendezvous Park in West Fargo. "Heart Walks are a great opportunity to get started on a summer walking regimen," said Dr. Craig Kouba, Head of Cardiology Sanford Health MeritCare. "If you can get into the habit of walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, it can improve your heart health as well as other health aspects of your life."
The Start! Heart Walk is free for everyone. However, participants are encouraged to raise funds by asking their family and friends for donations the old-fashioned way - face-to-face or by phone. Or, they can take advantage of technology and log on to www.redrivervalleyheartwalk.org - you can sign up and start sending emails to fundraise online. You can find more information at that website as well, or call (701) 212-3995.
"This year's Red River Valley Start! Heart Walk will basically be an outdoor health festival," says Stacy Duncan, Corporate Events Director. "We will feature fun and educational health games and booths including free blood pressure checks, fitness and wellness advice, and healthy snacks."
The Red River Valley Start! Heart Walk will be followed by a similar event in Grand Forks October 2, at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Start! is sponsored nationally by Subway. The Start! Cause Partner in North Dakota is Sanford Health MeritCare. Event sponsors for the Red River Valley Start! Heart Walk include: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Alerus Financial, Border States Electric, Microsoft Fargo, Nash Finch, and US Bank. Media Sponsors include Froggy 99.9, The Forum of Fargo Moorhead, and Valley News Live.
More tips are available from the American Heart Association's Start! Summer Walking Guide at www.startwalkingnow.org.