Posted April 7, 2013

The St. Joseph YMCA and Heartland Health celebrated National Walking Day.

The awareness day sponsored by the American Heart Association encouraged people to walk to promote the benefits of exercise. Studies have shown walking can reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and breast and colon cancers.

More than 23 employees participated in Heartland's lunch time walk, which traced the length of Heartland Road. Heartland held a second walk around dinnertime for employees who couldn't make the earlier walk.

Tama Wagner, chief brand officer for Heartland, said the health care system jumped on the opportunity to promote the benefits of health and exercise.

"Walking is something almost anyone can do," she said.

She's an avid walker herself. Mrs. Wagner's been walking with a friend every morning for the past five years. The time outside not only helps her health, she said, but it gives her and her friend time to talk.

"My walking partner and I also solve all the world's problems, like poverty and world peace," she laughed.

Registered nurses Amanda Ozenberger, Dana Anderson and Doug Schmitz also participated in the afternoon walk.

They work together at Heartland's long-term acute care hospital and decided to start exercising together at the first of the year. The group often works out on their lunch hour and were glad to see Wednesday's sunshine.

"We're waiting for the weather to warm up so we can walk outside," Mr. Schmitz said.

They've already noticed the benefits of the exercise. They all say they've lost some weight and feel like they have more energy.

The YMCA honored National Walking Day for the second year, also around midday. About 10 employees took a walk down Francis Street to the Riverwalk.

"We had a really good time getting out of the YMCA's doors and enjoying the weather," said Melissa Morrow, the YMCA's health and wellness coordinator.

She added that she hoped the walk inspired more people to get out and exercise.

Jennifer Gordon can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPGordon.

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