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A Healthier Heart One Step at a Time

Updated: 02/12/2014 6:30 AM
Created: 02/11/2014 11:21 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Heart Awareness Month brings serious competition to St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. Employees are battling heart attacks and strokes one step at a time.

“Today I'm up to 4,000,” Exercise Physiologist Sierra Anderson said.

That's 4,000 footsteps, and she's counting up to 10,000 every day.

“With the Pedometer on you're constantly reminded to keep an eye on it and to always maybe keep in mind taking a few extra steps,” Anderson said.

She is one of 700 St. Luke's employees covering miles all over the hospital. Over 40 teams have come together for fun, for health, and to win with the most steps. Cleaning Attendant Megan Nekowitch said the Sweep Walkers were mopping the floor with the competition.

“I was just really surprised. I mean, I do 10,000 or 20,000 just from running. I mean, it's amazing how easy tey add up,” Nekowitch said.

Anderson said there are ways to tick up even more on the pedometer.

“Parking at the end of the parking lot to get in those extra steps or taking the stairs all the way up to the cardiac unit adds in quite a few,” Anderson said.

But why so many steps? Dr. James Mohn said breaking the winter slump can give your heart a little extra pump.

“Sedentary people walk 2,000 or 3,000 steps a day. The challenge is to try and get people to walk 10,000 steps a day. That's approximately 5 miles of distance,” Mohn said.

The American Heart Association said heart disease kills 1 in 4 Americans every year. Mohn said stepping it up can cut the risk factors for strokes and heart attacks.

“Problems and diseases we deal with are a consequence of the lifestyle we enjoy in this country. So the diet we enjoy, the lack of exercise we enjoy because so amny things are made easier for us,” Mohn said.

Becoming heart healthy can make the employees rethink their lunch too. St. Luke's makes it easy by listing the number of steps it takes to burn off a muffin or a doughnut. That could make you think twice about grabbing one according to Nekowitch.

“Yeah I try and mark how much I eat for breakfast or lunch and then run it off at night,” Nekowitch said.

For employees needing a little incentitive there are bragging rights and a huge heart trophy to raise the stakes.

“We want that heart pillow for the year as a good reminder of how well we did,” Anderson said.

The winning team also gets three months of free gym time to keep their resolutions rolling. If your health goals have kicked the bucket the strong striders at St. Luke's said this challenge can get your heart beating again, and not just to win.

“It shouldn't just be a challenge that we want to rise to and see if we can achieve it, you know, because being heart healthy is something we do for our entire life and not just a contest period,” Anderson said.

The employees are building a stronger, healthier heart one step at a time.

The teams racked up for 79 million steps, which adds up to nearly 40,000 miles, and there is over a week left to go in the competition.

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