American Heart Association hosts "bridge walk" to combat heart disease

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A campaign for healthy hearts brought hundreds of walkers to the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge Wednesday morning.

The American Heart Association invited people to walk the bridge in support of the third annual Start Walking Day. Exercise walking can help reduce heart disease, along with improving overall health.

"We're just trying to bring about an awareness of heart disease and a way to combat it.  And it's as easy as exercise walking," said Kathy Aycock with the American Heart Association.

The Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge is a popular spot for exercise walkers. Normally crowded in the early morning and evenings, the special event attracted hundreds during the late morning.

"We've been walking probably more than a year. And we try to walk usually after supper every night, over the bridge and back," said Rose Marie Smith.

Smith and her husband Jerry walk the bridge primarily for health reasons.

"I don't want to take medicine. So, I've lost 50 pounds in the past four years and I'm not on medication for diabetes," said Jerry Smith.

Walking over and back on the bridge is the perfect exercise opportunity.  It's just over three miles total and it's uphill, both ways.

"I just want to walk for a good reason, a good cause. Because your heart needs it. And your body needs the walking. You just need it," said bridge walker Adrian Michael.

"I'm here to get exercise and to walk," said her walking partner Angel Pruitt, "It's awesome. Yeah, we're having a good time."

Singing River Health Systems has a walking program for its employees and encourages companies to do the same.

"We had people that were losing weight. They were better able to control their blood pressure, manage their diabetes. And just encouraged one another if they weren't getting up and moving," said Rendy Foster, with Singing River Health Systems.

"And for every two hours of exercise you can extend you life expectancy for one hour. That's huge. That's huge. And it's so easy to do," said Aycock.

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