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A Walk For Healthy Hearts

On Wednesday, a throng of Capital Region residents met Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan at the front entrance of Albany Medical Center to take a neighborhood walk. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas joined in, taking steps toward better health.

Mayor Sheehan was joined by two cardiologists in leading a parade of walkers from the front pillars of Albany Medical Center to tour the booming Park South neighborhood.  "Well I walk every opportunity that I get. I know that people comment on it. They'll say they saw me walking downtown. I very rarely get in my car if something is in walking distance and I have the time to get there, so I thought that this was a great event and it's something that I would enjoy doing anyway and so I'm here to bring attention to the importance of, you know, even just at lunchtime, getting out, walking for 15, 20 minutes. It can really make a difference."

The American Heart Association sponsors the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day to remind people about the health benefits of going for a stroll. 

Studies suggest that moderate physical activity has many proven benefits for overall health.  Medical student Vickie Wu:  "I'm a huge advocate for preventative care and making sure people stay healthy. Even, I would say, half an hour of walking for anyone would be very beneficial. Good for cardiac health, but also pulmonary health, good for mental health too. 10,000 steps is what is generally recommended, but I think just to be able to walk is good enough."

Experts say regular walking lowers blood pressure, keeps cholesterol in check and controls weight, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. The AHA recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity or a combination of both each week. Kids should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Albany Med Cardiologist Dr. Mandeep Sidhu is an Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Student Research at Albany Medical College and Associate Professor of Medicine at Albany Medical College.  "I hope that everyone will go home and raise awareness to both their family and friends. I think it's just events like this that make us stop and think, everyone is so busy in their daily life, but sometimes an event like this is really what prevents further issues down the road, and it gives people a chance to talk about it back at work. For our group from cardiology, we're talkin' about Friday 12:30 walks starting once a month, so it's just trying to get folks energized and motivated to focus on ourselves instead of caring for our patients, which always comes first."

Some walkers had more on their minds than good health. Medical student Alexandra Leonard:  "I want the city of Albany to be a more walkable city in general. I think we have too few options to walk to work, to get around, to bike, and I think this is a great opportunity to raise awareness, to make sidewalks accessible, to plan cities differently, to generally make this a nice city to get around in."

The #NationalWalkingDay campaign is broken down into weekly themes. Week one focuses on walking and the basic tools you need to get started. Walking is one of the safest, least expensive, and most sustainable forms of exercise. Weeks two and three focus on recreational sports and outdoor activities the whole family can do together, and week four focuses on mindful movement and reducing stress by doing activities such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi.
The AHA advises you to  wear your sneakers (or take them with you) to work, and at some point in the day, you are encouraged to take a 30-minute walk. 

Here are some great ways to make that 30-minutes more enjoyable:

  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Take a friend to pass the time.
  • Make sure to stretch those muscles.
  • Dring plenty of water.
  • Move your arms, too.
  • Make sure you have good posture.

WAMC news intern Nicholas Tantillo contributed to this report.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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