(screenshot courtesy of www.heartwalkla.kintera.org)

(screenshot courtesy of www.heartwalkla.kintera.org)

LOS ANGELES  – Americans are spending more time than ever sitting in front of computer screens – which means less time being active. That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) has designated the first Wednesday of April as National Walking Day, which is on April 2 this year. The goal is to get people to lace up their sneakers and get moving for a healthy heart.

In Downtown Los Angeles, the American Heart Association and sponsor Union Bank, N.A, will host a lunchtime rally and expo at Union Bank Plaza on Figueroa Street. The event includes an action-packed team relay challenge and a one-mile group walk around the area. The event is free and open to the public.

“Union Bank has been a proud supporter of the American Heart Association and its fight against heart disease and stroke for nearly 30 years,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Community Banking Pierre Habis, who is also director-at-large and board treasurer of the American Heart Association’s Western States Affiliate Board of Directors.  “Our support of the AHA’s walking movement has inspired many of our employees and customers to become more active and make positive, healthy changes to their lifestyles. Whether it’s walking, running, biking, playing sports or joining a group exercise class, the goal is to get more active.”National_Walk_day@

The goal in Los Angeles County is to walk a combined 25 million steps on National Walking Day. Everyone is invited to join the challenge and contribute steps toward the goal. Companies, community organizations, schools, families and individuals interested in promoting fitness and organizing group walks can get a free downloadable toolkit and pledge their steps on www.heartwalkla.org. Walkers are encouraged to wear red shoelaces and post a picture of themselves in action with the hashtag #AHALaceUp on social media.

Each year, more than 831,000 Americans die of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. A leading risk factor for these deadly diseases is physical inactivity. On the other hand, brisk walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can bring heart-healthy benefits and can reduce your chances for heart disease and stroke and reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In fact, research has shown that each hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to your life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age.

The American Heart Association’s National Walking Day encourages all Americans to get active and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to keep their hearts healthy. Walking is a great way to start – it’s easy, accessible, convenient, and it’s free.

Visit www.heartwalkla.org for more information.