In the minute or so that it will take you to read this piece, one American will have died from heart disease.
That's a sobering statistic.
About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's one out of every four deaths.
Here's the good news: Unlike some diseases with no known cause or cure, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. And they're pretty simple.
One of them is walking. Research shows walking just 30 minutes a day may reduce your risk for heart disease by 40 percent.
You just need to get started. That's why I'm hosting our city's first annual Move with the Mayor Challenge, a monthlong series of walks to raise awareness about heart disease and ways to prevent it.
This campaign, a partnership between the City of West Chicago, Team Pineda, Healthy West Chicago and the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, with great support from School District 33, encourages residents to walk with me for 30 minutes every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. from now until World Heart Day, which will include a celebration for all participants on Thursday, Sept. 29.
John Clymer, executive director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, points out that walking is one of the easiest ways to lower a person's chances of heart disease and its risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
"Getting on the road to a healthier heart doesn't have to take a lot of time," said Clymer, whose nonprofit organization focuses on saving lives through public education and policy initiatives. "Just take your first steps now and you'll be on your way to a healthier, happier life."
Unfortunately, too many of us feel too busy for that. We've got work to do, meals to cook, grass to mow. But investing a little time in your own health is worth it for you and your family. Just think of all the years you'll add to your life, giving you plenty more time to finish all of those things on your "to do" list, with extra time for fun.
Walking is a great way to get your blood pumping and your heart working. It can be done on your schedule, your time, when and where you want. You don't need to buy any special clothes or join a gym. The important thing is to get started.
Need more reasons? Just look at these statistics:
Cardiovascular disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the CDC. Every year about 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, the CDC notes. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put you at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
• Overweight and obesity
• Poor diet
• Physical inactivity
• Excessive alcohol use
Our city is proud to partner on this campaign with the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention. Five other cities across the country are also part of this critical effort, and we expect more to sign on next year.
I hope you'll join me in walking every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. this month at the following locations. Your heart will love you for it, and it may just save your life:
• Sept. 3 -- Gary Elementary; 130 E. Forest Avenue
• Sept. 10 -- Currier Elementary; 800 Garys Mill Road
• Sept. 17 -- St. Michael's Church/Healthy West Chicago Office; 108 Sherman Street
• Sept. 24 -- Reed-Keppler Park; 201 W. National Street
Ruben Pineda is m mayor of West Chicago.