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Pendleton puts heart health in focus during American Heart Month

Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) challenged Camp Pendleton’s occupants to jump start their hearts with individual jump rope competitions that raised awareness of heart health, Feb. 17.

In honor of February’s American Heart Month, MCCS’ Semper Fit Division is making an effort to remind all service members, their families and Department of Defense employees to keep their hearts healthy.

“The heart is an involuntary muscle that can often be taken for granted,” said Cari Gordonne, fitness programs supervisor, Semper Fit Division, MCCS. “It’s the muscle that delivers all the vitamins and minerals to our other organs. Therefore, it’s important to check its health and keep it pumping.”

The “Jump Start Your Heart” event was started by Semper Fit four years ago and is offered multiple times throughout February at the base’s various fitness centers.

The event involves patrons jumping rope for five or 10 minutes followed by an optional free cholesterol check. Those who completed five minutes received a key chain and those who completed 10 minutes were able to keep their jump rope.

“Most people don’t respect the benefit of using a jump rope for exercise,” said Sgt. Marcus Payton, field artillery cannoneer, 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. “It’s a very tiring exercise that gives your heart the workout it needs.”

In addition to exercising your heart with activities like jump roping, the best way to maintain a healthy heart is to follow your ABC’s as described by the American Heart Association: Avoid tobacco, Be more active and Choose good nutrition.

“Improving your cardiovascular health can be as simple as quitting smoking and getting more sleep,” said Gordonne. “It’s also important to do at least 30 minutes of continuous cardio most days of the week and to pay attention to your diet by adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains while cutting down on saturated fats and fried foods.”

Heart diseases are the number one killer in America and cardiovascular health is often overlooked, according to the AHA.

It is best to get your cholesterol checked regularly, as it is a factor in cardiovascular diseases, especially if you fall under certain risk factors such as family history or smoking, said Gordonne.

To help base residents and employees take control of their cardiovascular health, Semper Fit offers free cholesterol testing throughout the year. Marine Corps Community Services also provides free fitness assessments with a personal trainer that includes a snapshot of your overall health.

For more information about heart or cardiovascular health, visit the American Heart Association Web site at, or call the base’s Health Promotions Center at (760) 763-3794.

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