Walking it off: Heart Walk participants say their steps have helped them shed pounds

Over 4,000 participants gathered and walked a 5k at Cambier Park in Naples for this years Heart Walk put on by the Heart Association of America.  The event raised about $310,000 to help fight heart disease.  Photographed on November 6, 2010.  Kelli Stanko/Special to the Daily News.

Photo by KELLI STANKO // Buy this photo

Over 4,000 participants gathered and walked a 5k at Cambier Park in Naples for this years Heart Walk put on by the Heart Association of America. The event raised about $310,000 to help fight heart disease. Photographed on November 6, 2010. Kelli Stanko/Special to the Daily News.

— When Anna Isaacs realized she weighed 200 pounds, she also realized she needed a change.

For Isaacs, who is a network service technician at Physicians Regional Healthcare System and a single mom, getting in shape wasn’t only about looking better — it was about setting a healthy example for her young daughter, Saniyah. Appreciating that her weight could be an impediment to more strenuous forms of exercise, Isaacs decided to walk for her fitness.

And when she walked, she walked “a lot,” Isaacs recalled.

“Miles upon miles I was walking,” she said.

Now Isaacs has shed 50 pounds, a loss she credits to her walking routine and a healthier diet. Saniyah has noticed the change, too. When her mom works out, Saniyah likes to join her, doing sit-ups alongside her mom.

Isaacs and her daughter will soon take the next step together when they join the Southwest Florida American Heart Association’s Collier County Start! Heart Walk at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, beginning at Cambier Park in Naples. There is no registration fee to walk, although donations are welcome.

Across the nation, the annual walk unites communities, coworkers and friends to raise money and celebrate progress in the fight against the country’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, heart disease and stroke. This year, more than one million walkers will participate in nearly 350 events nationwide.

The 5-kilometer walk is designed to be fun and rewarding for the entire family; a shorter, one-mile course is also available. There will be face painting and a bounce house for kids, as well as a doggie depot station for four-legged walkers, complete with tasty treats.

A short program kicks off the event, and national event sponsor Subway will be on hand to provide attendees with heart-healthy sandwiches after the walk. Clear Channel radio stations Z 100 and 101.5 The Beat will provide entertainment.

Participants are encouraged to come early and visit the event’s numerous sponsors. Local cause sponsors for the event are Physicians Regional Healthcare System and Arthrex.

Like Isaacs, Nancy McLaughlin, Arthrex’s vice-president of Global Information Systems, has had weight loss success through walking and will join the Collier County Start! Heart Walk. She tries to shoot for 10,000 steps a day and by doing so, she has lost 28 pounds and shaved 30 points off her cholesterol count.

“At first, the 10,000 steps a day sounds intimidating, but if you make a game out of it, it’s fun,” McLaughlin said.

Arthrex encourages walking wellness in its corporate culture, too, she said. The company gives out pedometers to its staff, has several walking courses on its campus and even holds a “Dump the Plump” weight loss contest for employees. Walking may seem like a simple way to get healthy, but it absolutely works, McLaughin explains.

In more ways than one, she added.

“It’s a great stress reliever,” she said. “And it’s cheap.”

For more information on the Collier Start! Heart Walk, e-mail Teresa.McInnis@heart.org or visit www.collierheartwalk.org.

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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