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Advocate Spotlight: Peggy Johns, Florida

by on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Peggy Johns Florida

As a 62 year young health educator, heart health was first a personal passion with me and then became professional direction that has guided me for many years.  Where did this passion come from?  Who were my influencers?  Interestingly, it all started with Dr. Murphy, my pediatrician!  At the age of seven, he was concerned about my low resting heart rate, so he put me through a step test in his office.  I remember standing by my mother and feeling a sense of pride at hearing I was just fine, even better than fine, since I had a strong heart that could help run long distances. Wow, I loved running, the possibilities stretched before me!

Growing up before the sports’ benefits of Title 9, I was limited to joys of recess and physical education. And my father added fun by playing catch with his daughter, building her a high jump stand and long jump pit in the back yard.  Those times with the family playing tether ball, badminton, and catch added real value not only to my heart, but also the development of fairness and teamwork.  When the President’s Fitness Test came about during Junior High School, I knew I had the fitness and skills to earn a medal.  None of my girlfriends even wanted the medal, but for me it was an achievement I wanted.  I wanted to show it to my father and family.

As a young adult, Dr. Kenneth Cooper coined the word “Aerobics” in his best-selling books and a whole new world opened before me.   I became an Aerobic Dance instructor, went back to school to become a physical education teacher, and even became an exercise leader in a cardiovascular rehab program.

For over 30 years, I have been working with health and wellness issues in schools.  My own health has benefited from my profession.  Sadly, high cholesterol and heart disease run in my father’s side of the family.  But my father’s quadruple bypass surgery added 20 years to his life before his passing at age 83.  Two of my uncles were more careless with their health and succumbed to heart disease way too young.  And even my younger brother has been lax in his prevention so he is now a heart attack survivor.   As for me, I take my statin medications, exercise regularly, and eat sensibly.  I enjoy life easily because my doctor, family, and education helped guide me when I was young.  My goal is to do the same for other young people.  I wish everyone a heart healthy life!