Step one: take a step. Step two: take another. And step three: keep walking onward to heart health! In essence, that’s what C’Ville Walks with Heart is all about.

Walk, Walk, and Walk Some More for Heart Health

Walking is the easiest form of exercise. You can do it almost anywhere. To get moving, all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.

UVA’s Dr. Lawrence Gimple, Director of Clinical Cardiology and of Quality for UVA Heart and Vascular Center
Dr. Lawrence Gimple

Targeted primarily to individuals who are at risk for heart- and diabetes-related issues, C’Ville Walks with Heart encourages everybody to walk, walk, and walk some more. The program is a collaboration of UVA Heart and Vascular Center, UVA Cancer Center, Brooks Family YMCA, the Women’s Initiative, and Ragged Mountain Running and Walking Shop. It complements the research of UVA’s Dr. Lawrence Gimple, Director of Clinical Cardiology and of Quality for UVA Heart and Vascular Center and Dr. David Burt, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of the UVA Chest Pain Center. They have collaborated for many years to evaluate and improve the prospects of individuals who have survived heart attacks.

The work of rebuilding the heart muscle after a cardiac incident begins before a patient leaves the hospital. Using a C-GRApH tool, the cardiac and ED teams can assess the risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and the best treatment options.

“Our work does not end at the Emergency Department doors,” says Dr. Gimple. “Along with my colleagues, I focus on how we can keep people healthier longer. And that can happen just by becoming more active.”

Participants in C'Ville Walks with Heart

How to Enroll in C’Ville Walks with Heart

C’Ville Walks participants enroll at the Y or the UVA Cancer Center. Many participants also register in the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program for exercise, in addition to diet work to halt the disease’s progression.

Although C’Ville Walks is a year ‘round activity, and anyone can join in at any time, the walking year officially begins on a Saturday in June. That first day, the group walks about 1 ½ miles, cheered on by Ragged Mountain’s Mark Lorenzoni: “It’s not about speed. If you can’t talk without getting out of breath, you’re walking too fast.” Over the course of the summer, as intensity increases, walkers find they can work up from a leisurely stroll to a brisk walk. By the time the program is ready to move indoors, most are walking four miles or more.

During the other three seasons, walkers can continue Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at the Y’s indoor “UVA Heart Team” track. Every June, the program resets to zero miles, and the incentives kick in again.

Participants in C'Ville Walks with Heart distribute tshirts

Motivations to Keep on Walking

This past summer, the roster of 96 people walked a total of 2,700 miles. Participants documented their progress as they went along and receiving milestone incentives, such as T-shirts, hats, and totes. “When a walker reaches thirty miles, the Lorenzoni family awards a scholarship toward the purchase of new shoes,” explains Noelle Voges, Outreach and Engagement Specialist for UVA Cancer Center. “We all try to make them feel great about what they are accomplishing, and the shoe scholarship is especially motivational.”

C'Ville Walks with Heart group photo

The social dimension of walking is also motivational. People get to know each other, and family members encourage other family members to join in. “We have three generations of one family walking together—grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter,” says Voges who organizes the program along with Lindsay Hauser. “While they’re getting their steps in, they also are enjoying their time together.”

Another Way to Exercise: Learn to Swim Programs

The community is also invited to participate in the Learn to Swim Program that is made possible through the Ben Hair Just Swim for Life Foundation (BH-JSL) and its local partners — another heart-healthy activity that Dr. Gimple enthusiastically promotes. Lessons are available at several local facilities, including Brooks Family YMCA, ACAC Albemarle Square, and City of Charlottesville pools. Students at Walker Upper Elementary School can receive swim lessons through the city’s partnership with BH-JSL and Jefferson Swim League.

“I love taking care of problems,” says Dr. Gimple, whose commitment to community health extends to volunteerism as a Advisory Board member of the Ben Hair Just Swim for Life Foundation as well as his 16-year stint on the Piedmont Y Board. “Swimming is not only heart-healthy; it is an important survival skill.” Because there are significant racial disparities in knowing how to swim and being safe around water, this program contributes more broadly to the health of the entire community. “We know exactly what to do with patients in the ED, but keeping people from ever having to come to the ED is also an important part of my job.”

Learn More about C’Ville Walks with Heart

Noelle Voges, UVA Outreach and Education Specialist
Noelle Voges, UVA Cancer Center Outreach and Education Specialist

For more information about C’Ville Walks With Heart, contact Noelle Voges at nev6e@virginia.edu or by calling 434-243-9980.

Visit bhjsl.org for information about Learn to Swim programs.