Maintain Your Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Throughout the Year

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The 3rd annual National Firefighter Health Week was held on August 17-21. This was an opportunity for you to focus on your total health – heart, mind, and body. Hopefully you used this week as an opportunity to focus on your own health as well as the health and wellness of your department. As you know, decreasing your risk factors and making healthy lifestyle choices benefits not only you, but also your family, department, and the community that you serve.

There are many things you can do to keep it strong all year long. You can continue to use the resources offered on the National Firefighter Health Week Resource Center, which provided many tools and ideas you can do on your own or as a department to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day life. Revisit the page and work your way through all of the daily activity and tip ideas. Listen to any of the daily focus podcasts that you missed. Learn more about creating a department-wide health and wellness program to keep the motivation up year-round and provide a support system to further encourage your efforts. Utilize additional information found at www.healthy-firefighter.org, and adopt the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program to access even more tools and resources to help you keep it strong throughout the year.

In addition, you can observe some of the many national and international health days, weeks, and months throughout the year to continue learning about important health and wellness issues. September observances include:

  • America On the Move Campaign’s STEPtember promotion - STEPtember is a month-long celebration to encourage Americans to be active and eat healthier. During the month of September, America On the Move promotes a “small-changes” approach to healthier living. You, your department, and/or your family can join the STEPtember challenge at www.americaonthemove.org.
  • Fruit and Veggies - More Matters Month - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other public and private organizations, use September to promote eating fruits and vegetables for better health. The CDC reports that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Learn more at www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.org.
  • National Cholesterol Education Month - Your diet is an important factor in controlling cholesterol. Cholesterol is a naturally occurring chemical in your body, but too much - or not enough - can increase your risk of heart disease. A healthy, low-fat eating plan, combined with regular physical activity, is key to maintaining your heart-health and controlling cholesterol. Foods high in soluble fiber, like oatmeal, beans and peas, barley, and many fruits and vegetables are recommended to help lower cholesterol levels. Find out more at http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/cholmonth/.
  • Whole Grains Month - Research continues to prove the benefits of whole grains. You may already know that the fiber in whole grain helps promote digestive health, but studies have also shown that eating more whole grains may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Studies published in 2005 and 2006 show that whole grains may lower triglycerides, improve insulin control, help with weight management, and slow the buildup of arterial plaque. Learn more at www.wholegrainscouncil.org/get-involved/celebrate-whole-grains-month-in-september.
  • World Heart Day - Heart disease and stroke is the world's largest killer, claiming 17.5 million lives each year. It is the leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for almost half of all line-of-duty firefighter fatalities. World Heart Day, observed this year on September 27, was organized by the World Heart Federation (www.worldheart.org) members and partners to create public awareness of risk factors for heart disease and stroke and to promote preventive measures. This year’s theme is “Work with Heart,” which encourages workplaces to make small changes that together could make a big difference in favor of greater health and productivity.

View a full calendar of health observances. Learn more about the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program’s many resources at www.healthy-firefighter.org. It takes a person with heart to be a firefighter. Keep it strong.

Information Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cholesterol Education Program, Whole Grains Council, World Heart Federation, and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

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