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Staying Active in the Heat of Summer

If you’re like me, summer is the best time of the year.  Ample sunshine, longer days, vacations, sporting and music events galore, what’s not to love about summer?  But now that we’ve hit August, being active in the sweltering heat can be more challenging. 


Here are some of tips to staying cool while it’s hot outside:

  • Timing is key: Try to avoid exercising outside in the early afternoon. It’s usually hottest between noon and 3 pm (or 7pm if you’re inland).
  • Hydrate: Drink water before, during and after physical activity, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Dress for success: Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Moisture-wicking fabric can also be a big help.
  • Listen to your body: Take frequent breaks in the shade, and allow yourself time to adapt to the heat -- some experts say that this can take about 4-14 days. You may not be able to work out as long or as hard as usual when it’s very hot. When it’s too hot, do something active indoors.      
  • Doctor’s orders: Check with your healthcare professional before starting an exercise routine or moving your workout outdoors if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, other chronic disease or any medical concerns. Healthcare professionals also recommend that certain medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics can exaggerate the body’s response to heat.
  • Buddy up: If you can, work out with a partner for safety ... and fun!


For more tips and tricks, visit here.  

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Healthy School Environments Support Healthier Food Preferences in Children

Building on the progress made in recent years in the school nutrition environment, the American Heart Association is committed to helping remove unhealthy marketing and advertising present on school property.  Parents may not realize the practices going on that is the result of corporations finding ways to put their products in front of children during the school day.  Logos and promotional items for foods and beverages, that can’t be sold in schools anymore, including coupons for these products given to children for academic achievements, even advertising for fast food restaurants on our sports fields owned by school districts, is all intended to increase children’s preferences and consumption of unhealthy products out of school hours. We can protect our children by helping our schools create policies around the type of marketing and advertising acceptable on school property and visible to students during the school day.  Soda logos on score boards can be replaced with acceptable product logos, such as water products of the same company.  We can ensure that healthy products that meet school nutrition guidelines are featured as giveaways and coupons and on posters or signage that children are exposed to during school time.  You’re The Cure advocates, through the NH Healthy, Active Kids campaign, will ensure guidelines on marketing are addressed in District Wellness Policies and through state regulation.

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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan ( or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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Lunch and Learn with a Side of Sunshine

I spend most of my work time striving to reduce heart disease and stroke through changing statewide policies in Maine. Even when the legislature is out of session, the work does not cease. Maine’s American Heart Association Advocacy Committee analyzes Maine’s current landscape for policy, politics and healthcare to see where we can best affect change to reduce Maine’s #1 killer. We look both forward and back. However, even though there is work to do, the pace is definitely slower than when things are hopping in Augusta.

That leaves me time for really fun things like: Inviting a local news crew to your house to film a segment on healthy grilling. WMTW8 does a monthly Heart Health 8 segment for the American Heart Association.  July’s segment airs on July 8th. The segments are timely and very informative.  

If you want to see past segments, please visit:

I was able to observe the entire production and learned a lot about healthy grilling from our awesome advocacy volunteer and dietician, Lori.  Not only does she help me with my food policy work throughout the year, but she makes awesome grilled salmon and stone fruit.  She also grilled veggies, chicken and turkey burgers. There was nary a chip or hotdog in sight—and I did not miss them one bit. The best part was eating everything once the shoot was over.

The American Heart Association uses every available route to encourage healthy lifestyles. Media, workplace outreach, online resources, school programs, fundraisers and, of course, policy change.

The goal is to reduce heart disease and stroke, but we definitely have fun along the way.

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Vermont Child Care Facilities have new Emphasis on Healthy Eating and Activity!

Parents of young children across Vermont can now have greater confidence that their child care provider is building the foundation for a heart-healthy life.

The Vermont Child Development Division (CDD) of the Agency for Human Services recently issued new regulations for home and center-based early child care facilities ensuring children in their care are served healthy foods, no sugary drinks and get plenty of active play time.  The Division touts that they have “engaged parents, providers, regulators and community members in a process of dialogue and consensus building to create regulations that are child centered, family friendly and fair to providers. This revision provides clarification and incorporates new information to update definitions, staff qualifications, effective program operation and changes in both program and regulatory practice.” 

Advocates for the new standards include the Eat Well Play More coalition co-chaired by the YMCA and the American Heart Association and the Building Bright Futures Early Childhood Wellness Committee as a partner in this effort. The coalition worked for several months to develop a list of 20 recommendations for the regulation revision process. Later in the fall, they hosted an early childcare conference featuring national experts on child nutrition policy, including Jessica Donze-Black with The Pew Charitable Trusts and Natasha Frost with the Public Health Law Center.

Parents and caregivers also provided feedback on the revisions, resulting in a thorough process and improved care for the thousands of children under age 6 in Vermont who are enrolled in such facilities. Highlights of the new regulations include better nutrition, less time watching TV or sitting on computers and more time being active:

  • More fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • No sugary drinks
  • More physical activity
  • No screen time for children under the age of 2 and limited for older children

The new regulations will positively impact care for as many as 35,000 children in 1500 early care settings across Vermont!



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Good Food Access Fund is Ready to Take on MN's Healthy Food Access Problem!

More than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meats and poultry.1 This problem is only worsening with 61% of Minnesota counties losing grocery stores since 2007.2 Limited access to healthy, affordable foods results in disproportionately higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related health problems.3 It is also one of the key contributing factors to the health disparities that currently exist in Minnesota among many communities of color.4

Last fall, the American Heart Association and the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition obtained a Voices for Healthy Kids grant to create a healthy food financing policy solution to address this state-wide problem. We knew that such programs in other states were successful where grocery stores were reopened in low access areas, improving good food access and revitalizing local economies. 

In true Minnesotan fashion, we decided to do things a little differently. Based on feedback garnered during our ongoing community engagement and in accordance with the Minnesota Food Charter, we knew that solely reopening grocery stores would not be the answer. Working with partners across health, food insecurity, agriculture, and community-investment interests, we proposed the Good Food Access Fund which would be established and funded by the Minnesota Legislature. It would provide grants, low-cost loans, and technical support for food-related enterprises in areas of the state where people don’t have the ability to choose healthy, affordable foods. Those enterprises could include new or enhanced grocery stores, mobile markets and farmers’ markets, fresh food refrigeration, and other innovative community-driven solutions. 

We introduced the Good Food Access Fund bill at the beginning of the Minnesota legislative session in early March. We expected this to be an introduction/education year for the Good Food Access Fund – but WOW!!! Thanks to our amazing chief bill authors, Senator Dan Sparks and Representative Rod Hamilton, and the work of all our partners, the bill got so much more attention and support than we anticipated. The bill went on a whirlwind tour of 6 committee hearings in 6 weeks!  The last of the hearings, was before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Equity, a new committee that represents the first time the legislature has taken a serious look at addressing racial disparities. The Subcommittee included our bill in their budget recommendations and appropriated $5 million in one-time funding!! This is far from the finish line and a final win is still a long ways away with many hurdles – but this is a HUGE accomplishment! The next few weeks of the legislative session will tell whether this $5 million appropriation becomes a reality. 

Our success this year really speaks to how relevant and important the issue of food access is in Minnesota; it crosses partisan and geographic divides. It’s not just an economic issue, it’s a health and equity issue as well. We have sent the message that improving food access is a priority in Minnesota! Thanks to all of the YTC members who have responded to our Action Alerts! We look forward to your continued support as we move forward! Please like and follow the campaign on Facebook for more information!


[1] Mattessich, P. & Rausch, E. (2016).Healthy food access: A view of the landscape in Minnesota and lessons learned from healthy food financing initiatives. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Wilder Research.

2 Center for Rural Policy and Development. Grocery Stores by the Number. Mankato, MN 2014.

3 Manon, M. & Kim, E. (2012).Food for every child: The need for more supermarkets in Minnesota. The Food Trust. 


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May is Stroke Month: Become a Stroke Hero!

In the U.S. someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. We won’t stand idly by as this menacing disease claims our loved ones and independence. We humbly request your support as we rally the nation to create Stroke Heroes by teaching: 80% of most strokes can be prevented and stroke is largely treatable. Studies prove the faster a stroke patient is treated, the more likely they are able to recover without permanent disability. 

You don’t need superpowers to be a Stroke Hero. Start by controlling high blood pressure, the leading-controllable risk factor for stroke and learning the 5 Things Every Stroke Hero Should Know in effort to reduce your risk of having a stroke. 

Now that you have commanded the power to prevent stroke, prove you are ready to put an end stroke. Learn and share  F.A.S.T., the simple acronym used to teach the warning signs of stroke and to save lives. 

Activate your superpowers by taking the Stroke Hero-Superpower Quiz and prove are ready to join our league of Stroke Heroes. 

To learn more ways you can be a Stroke Hero, visit

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Symposium Attendees Taught to "Rethink Your Drink"

Attendees at the Worksite Wellness Symposium learned just how much sugar is in their daily beverages. We started out our 15 minute breakout session with a Price is Right style game, "Higher or Lower?"  Attendees had three plates of sugary treats in front of them, next to a 20 oz bottle of soda.  They had 30 seconds to determine whether the treat had a higher or lower sugar content than the soda.  Before the next game they were given facts on how much sugar the American Heart Association recommends for adult women, adult men, children, and teenagers. 

The next game was "The Sugar Shuffle!"  Attendees had two minutes to match up the amount of teaspoons of sugar with the correct drink on the board.  They were surprised at how much sugar was actually in the beverages they and their family consume every day!

Before they moved on to the next session, we asked them to sign a "Rethink Your Drink" pledge card, pledging to consume zero sugary beverages for the entire month of March, which happens to be Nutrition Month.

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Do You Know How Much Sugar You're Eating or Drinking?

Guest Blogger: Claudia Goytia, Government Relations Director, Greater Los Angeles

Late in 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued dietary guidelines on added sugar intake.  These new dietary guidelines did not come about without a fight. Health advocates and the food and beverage industry played a significant role in shaping these dietary guidelines. 


We, the AHA and our partners, are doing our part to urge all Americans to have a greater understanding of added sugar in our diets and the impact on our health.  The USDA guidelines are a great start but based on AHA research the standards should be a little stronger, especially in regards to sugar.  Based off the scientific statement in Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, we recommend limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day for women and no more than 150 calories per day for men. That is 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.


For more information about sugar and its impact on your health, please visit here.


Here are some tips for taking control of your sugar intake are: 

  • Understand where sugar is hiding in the food you eat.  Many items like bread, pasta and yogurt may have some kind of added sugar.
  • Know the different types of names sugar can be labeled as, including high corn fructose syrup, agave, sucrose, and others.  Please visit the link below for the complete list.  
  • Drink water and unsweetened beverages so that you are not adding extra calories to your meals.
  • Avoid sugary beverages (sodas, energy drinks and similar products) because they are the number one source of added sugar in our diet. The average American drinks nearly 50 gallons of sugary beverages a year, equaling nearly 39 pounds of liquid sugar.
  • If you crave sweets, have some fruit as a way to curb the desire for processed and added sugar. Fruits also provide fiber and other nutrients in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth.
  • For more tips on how to reduce you sugar intake, visit here.


As a local advocate working with community members, health coalitions, educators and policy makers to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, I have found that education on the topic of sugar intake is necessary in order to improve health in our community.  Change in behavior, policy and attitudes begins with a simple conversation on sugar and how it impacts our diets. 

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