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Lace up and Walk to Better Health

by Pamela M. on Thursday, April 3, 2014

The American Heart Association invited all Americans to lace up for their heart health and get moving on National Walking Day, April 2nd.  Walking has many health benefits, and April is the ideal time to kick-start your physical activity routine! Research has shown that every hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to your life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age. Physical activity can also relieve depression, improve your memory and lower your blood pressure.

American adults and children are spending more time sitting at screens (computers, TV, video games) and less time being active. Being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans and studies have shown that people who have a low level of activity double their risk of heart disease

Despite popular belief, teens, and children can have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. According to the discharge records from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Kids’ Inpatient Database, pediatric hypertension-related hospitalizations in the United States nearly doubled, from 12,661 in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006. Furthermore, charges for inpatient care for hypertensive children increased by 50 percent, reaching an estimated $3.1 billion. Physical activity in your leisure time can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, new research in the American Heart Association journal of Hypertension suggests.

Physical activity not only helps control your blood pressure, it also helps you manage your weight, strengthen your heart and manage your stress level. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, while kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. If your children don't have a full 60-minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development.

So get up and get moving! Start helping your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits.

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