Many community walks are planned for National Walking Day on April 4, sponsored locally by Union Bank. The Downtown Seattle walk begins at the Union Bank branch on 5th & University. For a complete list of community walks from Everett to Tacoma, visit pugetsoundheartwalk.org.
Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise. Just about anyone can walk, and walking has been proven to have significant benefits for your heart. Over the past two years, I have made it a personal goal to improve my health by making major changes in my life. This included a conscious decision to improve my diet and fitness, and walking was an important part of staying active.
My journey began in October 2010 when I became very ill. Forty-five days later I was admitted to the hospital with multiple organ failure. The diagnosis was bacterial endocarditis, which is an inflammation or infection of the inner lining of the heart. I was treated aggressively with antibiotics but unfortunately, significant damage had already been done to one of my heart valves. On December 21 I underwent open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. Thankfully the surgery was successful and my hospital stay was less than three days. My recovery went quickly and two weeks later I was walking for an hour a day and was back at work in less than a month.
During this period, I did some soul searching and took a hard look at everything going in my life, from my marriage, my job, my friends, my lifestyle and priorities. I evaluated which aspects brought me joy and which ones had a negative influence in my life. I made a conscious decision to put myself higher on the priority list, and part of this became a goal to improve my health.
Over the course of next few months, I stepped up my exercise program to include 3-4 times a week at the gym and I started golfing again. If I couldn’t make it to the gym, I would walk the stairs at home and use free weights, walk at work or do squats throughout the day. I made it a point to walk from point A to point B whenever I could. I also changed my diet and cut portion sizes in half.
Eventually I lost 80 pounds. In October 2011, I participated in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and became one of the recipients of its Lifestyle Change Award. To this day, walking is still a vital part of my fitness routine.
April 4 is National Walking Day. Bring your sneakers to work and schedule a 30-minute walking break into your work day. Let this be the day you start a healthy habit of ditching your desk and opting to take a brisk walk. Before you know it, you’ll be going farther and adding more to your fitness routine. Your heart will surely thank you!