American Heart Association wants more fit friendly work places

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The idea is to work out during your work day. During National Walking Day, the American Heart Association encouraged people to bring sneakers to their jobs and take at least 30 minutes to get out and walk. The organization is also recognizing the employers who make it easier for their employees to stay in shape.

More than one third of Mississippians die from heart disease or stroke, making cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death is our state. The American Heart Association said physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease. Officials say when employers have healthier employees, everyone benefits.

Nursing school students said USM is teaching them how to take care of patients and how to take care of themselves.

"We're learning how important it is to keep our bodies healthy, because if we don't keep ourselves healthy we won't be able to help other people when we start working in the hospitals," said student Connie Coletta.

Students, faculty and staff walked around the USM Gulf Park campus Wednesday. They put on their tennis shoes as part of the American Heart Association's National Walking Day.

"I wanted to organize this activity because it's important for the students here on campus to know the importance of public health," said student Breanna Delagrave. "Although the American Heart Association is a national organization, it's important to promote public health in our community and strive to help Mississippians get healthier."

"I do like a partner to do it with because it keeps you motivated," said student Michelle Boudreaux. "You can ask them to go with you. If you don't feel necessarily wanting to go they might help you out wanting to go."

AHA officials said the Gulf Park campus was chosen for the Fit Friendly worksite award because of how the campus promotes healthier living. A few examples are having walking paths that are well lit and offering healthier choices in the cafeteria.

"It's proven to reduce company healthcare costs, lower turnover rates, reduce absenteeism and improve productivity and performance so the program works. We just want more businesses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to implement the fit friendly work program," said Jessica Brazeale, of the American Heart Association.

The AHA helps all businesses, from a large corporation to a mom and pop shop, to become a fit friendly worksite. It's free.

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