Get Heart Healthy This February on America's Trails

Posted 01/31/14 by Elissa Southward in Health and Wellness

American Heart Month—observed in February of each year—was established in 1963 to draw national attention to the ongoing fight against cardiovascular disease, one of the most serious health epidemics in our country today. Indeed, heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., responsible for one out of every four fatalities or, to illustrate it more poignantly, approximately 1,644 deaths per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

And while heart disease does not present in children, our country has long acknowledged the increasing prevalence of risk factors such as obesity and sedentary behaviors that are associated with the condition in later years. It’s scary, when you think about it.

But, wait—there’s good news to come; I promise!

Here at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we understand the undeniably important connection between our nation’s vast trail systems and our nation’s heart health. And it’s this connection that has inspired us to join and help lead this conversation, this February and year-round, to fight for healthier communities across America. 

There are, in fact, very simple steps all of us can take to protect our hearts and make healthy, active living a priority. And one of the most recommended ways to improve our heart health is through—you got it—physical activity. Studies show that children who participate in 60 minutes of physical activity per day are shown to be at lower risk for cardiovascular disease as adults. And, adults who regularly engage in physical activity, particularly high-intensity activities like cycling and running, are shown to greatly reduce their risk of heart disease. 

Our public pathways are the perfect places to get outdoors and get our heart rates going through walking, biking, running and many other convenient, self-propelled activities that get us where we need to go…and simply just get us to go. And we at RTC are dedicated to spreading this message and supporting others as they promote cardiovascular disease prevention in the U.S. 

All through February, through our blogs and social media, RTC will focus on the unique issues and challenges faced by our fellow citizens, including women, children, the elderly and those living in underserved communities. It is our goal to increase awareness of the obstacles Americans endure with regard to their cardiovascular wellness and draw attention to the strides being made to fight and prevent heart disease across the country.

Additionally, we want to hear from you.  Do you have a unique anecdote to share about how you are claiming a healthy heart or a healthier life?  Or, are you inspired by the incredible work your community is doing to draw awareness to this important issue?  Please tell us!

As RTC’s new Healthy Communities Manager, it’s my pleasure to share these stories with you. May these February voices inspire you to join the conservation…and may they inspire all Americans to adopt heart-healthy lifestyles for a lifetime. 

Happy Heart Month! 


In solidarity with National Heart Month, RTC encourages you to get out on your favorite local trail. While it may be a bit chilly in some parts of the U.S. (bundle up!), just think how great you and your heart will feel afterwards.

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