LOS ANGELES–Union Bank, N.A., and The American Heart Association (AHA) have announced a four-year agreement to promote the AHA’s Start! movement in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. The largest-of-its kind, the sponsorship is an expansion of the previous three-year agreement in Los Angeles County that ended in November 2009. Through the new, larger sponsorship agreement, the two organizations continue a groundbreaking and tremendously successful collaboration that has funded life-saving research and has educated tens of thousands of people on how to live longer, stronger lives.
“At Union Bank, we are committed to supporting the communities we serve,” says Union Bank Executive Vice President Pierre Habis. “We’re thrilled to expand our support of the American Heart Association, and we’re proud to partner with such a committed team. It’s also wonderful to know that our efforts in supporting the American Heart Association may help save someone’s life.”
“For Union Bank, it makes perfect sense to be involved with Start!, because we care about creating total wellness in the communities we serve — making sure people are active in managing their health as well as their finances,” says Union Bank Senior Vice President and Market President John Stephan, who serves as the executive champion for Start!
The Start! program aims to get Americans walking by targeting the place where the majority of waking hours are spent: the workplace. Americans now work 164 more hours per year than 20 years ago, and as jobs change to require more sedentary activities such as thinking and communicating, American workers exercise less. Such sedentary lifestyles lead to obesity issues and preventable illnesses that ultimately cost companies billions of dollars each year in absenteeism, lost productivity, and rising healthcare premiums. Start! serves as both a smart fiscal choice, and a powerful catalyst for positive change by helping to promote wellness in communities across the nation.
“We know that lack of physical activity is a major contributor to the current epidemic of heart disease and stroke, the nation’s number one and number three killers, respectively,” said Dr. John Harold, president of the Los Angeles division of the American Heart Association.
“On the other hand, we also know that regular exercise lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, lowers high blood pressure, and extends longevity and improves quality of life. And walking is one of the best exercises because it is free, has a relatively low dropout rate, and is accessible,” Dr. Harold said.
In fact, studies show that walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity, which is why the American Heart Association has chosen to emphasize walking as the cornerstone of the Start! program. Not only do people tend to keep walking once they start, but walking regularly – for as little as thirty minutes a day – can significantly reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
“People need to understand that if they want to live a long, healthy life, they have to move,” Dr. Harold said. “We are confident that this partnership will help promote healthier lifestyles not only at Union Bank, but, through the exposure the partnership will bring, to much more of California’s workforce.”