Inaugural 'My Heart Challenge: Play at Home Edition' Launches

By Jason M Carlton

It's no joke that today, April 1, the My Heart Challenge: Play at Home Edition launched, placing 25 people from Salt Lake County in a contest for better health. Between April 1 and May 31, community members will be competing to become more heart healthy.

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The Play at Home version is a new element of the larger My Heart Challenge, which this year features 15 firefighters from seven fire departments in Salt Lake County. The 25 contestants will be working to make the same heart-healthy changes our 15 firefighters are making - which means eating healthier foods, exercising more, and tracking everything they are doing so they can achieve success.

Here are a few of the reasons these 25 people signed up to compete in this year's inaugural Play at Home Edition of the My Heart Challenge. 

"I cannot walk up 15 stairs at work without losing my breath," writes one of the Play at Home contestants. "I can't fit in the rides at Lagoon and I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up."

Another contestant writes, "I want to set a great example for my children and little sister. I was a swimmer in high school but never really learned how to be healthy. I want my kids to grow up with a health mom and not have to learn how to be healthy when they are my age; it's much harder to make changes later in life."

"I am a young father and I want to be healthy for my kids," writes another contestant. "I want to learn how to set a good example for them and I feel like this Challenge is a great opportunity to learn and change before I have real health and heart problems." 

Each week, the 25 contestants will report on the number of days they tracked their steps and healthy meals, along with their current weight. Participants are also invited to join a 30-minute webcast on April 10 from 10:30-11 am, featuring TOSH dietitian Kary Woodruff and two firefighters talking about grocery shopping and eating on the run. A Facebook chat will also be held on Wednesday, April 30 from 10:30-11:30 am, discussing nutrition and exercise. The public is welcome to join in the discussions as well. 

During the week of June 2-6, the Play at Home contestants will submit their final reports and check in at one of the Intermountain Heart Institute Cardiology Clinics for a final weigh-in. Points will then be tallied and the grand prize winner will be announced mid-June and invited to attend the 2014 My Heart Challenge Awards Ceremony on June 25, 2014 at Intermountain Medical Center to be recognized for their efforts to make heart-healthy changes at home - right alongside the 15 firefighters. 

Everyone is invited to follow along and make little changes that will help improve their own heart health. Follow the blog for regular exercise and nutrition tips, along with updates on how the firefighters and Play at Home contestants are doing throughout the challenge. 

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The winner of the Play at Home Edition will receive a Hurom Slow Juicer HU-100, courtesy of Kitchen Kneads in Ogden and West Jordan. The 2014 My Heart Challenge is sponsored by the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, Fox 13, and Select Health.