Healthy Heart Week brings several moments of reflection


Arushi Sharma

From January 31 to February 4, schools all around the district partook in various projects and activities related to keeping your heart and body healthy.

Mazzy Warren, Staff Writer

Each year, more than 870,000 Americans are diagnosed with heart failure, making heart disease the number one leading cause of death in America. In the face of this heart health crisis, organizations worldwide host annual Healthy Heart week to spread awareness.

This year, Austin Independent School District (AISD) has been participating in this for over a decade, using Healthy Heart week as an initiative to encourage staff and students to take better care of their hearts. From January 31 to February 4, schools all around the district partook in various projects and activities related to keeping your heart and body healthy.

“The emphasis for this year is mostly on managing stress, because stress has a very negative impact on the heart,” coach Vickie Benson said. “There’s a lot of stress right now in our climate, so that’s the point we wanted to prioritize this year.”

This initiative aims to impact both staff and students in the district by providing educational resources about heart disease prevention. Many coordinators and students alike believe the entire community of AISD could benefit from improving heart health.

“The idea of celebrating Healthy Heart Week is great because it’s really important to think about your heart,” sophomore Nicole Magnus said. “Everyone’s learning about their hearts, and we’ll know what’s good for us and what isn’t. It’s helping people achieve their [health] goals.”

According to the American Journal of Cardiology, , nearly 80% of heart attacks are never diagnosed, leading many to believe that not enough attention is paid to taking care of their hearts, even though it has an impact on other factors of well-being. Each day of Healthy Heart Week,the  Bowie announcements shared a new tip to keep your heart healthy and active in a simple way. Monday’s advice was to get active, and on Tuesday the announcements suggested eating well to promote healthy living.

“Healthy foods fuel our bodies and provide energy for us to live well,” Principal Mark Robinson said in the announcements Tuesday. “When eating healthy, think of a rainbow. The more colorful the food, the more vitamins and nutrients your body receives. We encourage students and staff to make and enjoy a colorful, heart-healthy meal for lunch today.”

The Wednesday announcements informed listeners about the importance of being kind to yourself, and had school not been canceled Thursday, students would have heard to be kind to others as well.

“Many of you have felt overwhelmed by the pandemic and all the changes it has brought to [our] lives,” Robinson said Wednesday morning. “When you start to have those feelings, we want you to do a loving-kindness meditation, to practice compassion. Sit quietly and direct kindness to yourself. Repeat thoughts like, ‘May I be happy,’ and ‘May I be healthy and strong.’ Try it to see if loving-kindness meditation can bring more happiness to you.”

Since the first Friday is designated as National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease and to encourage healthy habits, had school not been canceled, student and staff would have been encouraged to wear a red shirt to school. The holiday is hosted by the organization Go Red for Women.

“From landmarks to online communities, neighborhoods to news anchors, this annual groundswell unites millions of people for a common goal: the eradication of heart disease and stroke,” a Go Red for Women spokesperson said on their website. “Wear red to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and help save lives.”

A survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic revealed that, though 68% of Americans worry about contracting heart diseases, many of these people don’t make efforts to maintain healthy habits. Healthy Heart week leaders want to remind people that it’s important to take care of these muscles. They suggest beginning with physical activity, according to Benson, as it is the best way to promote heart healthiness.

“Take care of your hearts, exercise them and train them,” Benson said. “I encourage students to know what they’re putting in their bodies and what they’re allowing into their sphere of influence, because so many things can impact the heart negatively. We don’t always think about the things that can affect our hearts, but we need to.”