UnitedHealthcare is committing $1.95 million over three years to the American Heart Association to help establish walking paths throughout the country, with a goal of 150 new paths in the first year. It will also fund enhanced online walking resources available on the American Heart Association's walking paths website. The site offers resources to help people get started and maintain their walking and exercise regimens. They include:

- Local walking paths;

- Three customized walking programs (beginner, intermediate and advanced);

- Online tracking tools to document calories consumed, steps taken and routes walked;

- Downloadable seasonal walking guides with tips to maintain a routine regardless of the weather;

- Walking videos, produced in collaboration with ExerciseTV, that make an at-home workout easier with practical and motivational tips.

In November, a revamped website will house more paths, new resources and social-networking opportunities that will enable people to connect with other walkers in their communities.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare employees will celebrate the company's national support of American Heart Association Walking Paths on Wednesday, Aug. 18, with a lap around the half-mile path at its Indianapolis headquarters. The employees will take the lead on developing safe and accessible walking paths in central Indiana. The event takes place 30 days before the Indianapolis Start! Heart Walk, when more than 100 UnitedHealthcare employees will walk to raise money for the American Heart Association.

"The Walking Paths Program will make a positive impact on the health of individuals and communities across the country by getting people walking, an activity that is easy, inexpensive and can be done almost anywhere," said Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility for UnitedHealth Group. "This new partnership will help create physical and virtual resources for walking and give our employees new opportunities to volunteer with the American Heart Association around the country, helping to make their own communities healthier."

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and costs the nation nearly $305 billion annually," said Ralph Sacco, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "If we can get more Americans focusing on cardiovascular health, we could prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce the annual medical costs that are spent on people with excess health risk.

"With the help of UnitedHealthcare, we will be able to reach millions of people across the country and increase the number of paths available to the public so Americans everywhere can enjoy the benefits of walking," Sacco added.

The American Heart Association has identified physical activity as one of seven key factors to achieve ideal cardiovascular health as part of its new 2020 goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans and reduce deaths by 20 percent. Only 15 percent of American adults achieve the association's recommended levels of moderate aerobic exercise - 30 minutes a day, five days a week, according to a recent American Heart Association study.

The partnership builds upon a broad base of support that UnitedHealthcare and other UnitedHealth Group businesses have provided for the American Heart Association. Each year, UnitedHealth Group employees have the option to support the American Heart Association with payroll deductions and receive a dollar-for-dollar company matching contribution during their employee-giving campaign. For the last two years, the company has fielded a national Start! Heart Walk team composed of groups in more than three dozen communities across the country. In addition, UnitedHealth Group executives serve on 10 American Heart Association divisional boards and affiliate boards across the country.

American Heart Association

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