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‘Just One Thing Challenge’ helps Hoosiers reduce heart disease



INDIANAPOLIS — On television and in the movies, heart attacks are depicted as a sudden, dramatic moment. One minute everything is fine. The next, someone is sweating profusely, clutching their chest in agony and collapsing in a heap.

Such depictions make for good drama. But the reality is that most heart attacks and strokes don’t come out of the blue; they can often be the result of a lifetime of choices about what people eat, how much physical activity they get, whether they smoke and how they handle stress.

To help Hoosiers reduce their risk, the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention launched the World Heart Day-inspired “Just One Thing Challenge” at the beginning of September. The campaign asks people to do something simple: Choose just one thing to do in September to improve their heart health and do that one thing until World Heart Day on Sept. 29.

The campaign will culminate with a one-mile World Heart Day walk at each Indiana University campus. At IUPUI, the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Healthy IU will lead a walk that begins at the Rotary Building, 702 Rotary Circle, at 11 a.m. The public is welcome to join the walk. Details on all the walks, including walking routes, can be found under the “Chancellor’s Challege” tab on the Just One Thing Challenge events page.

“There is a real sense of urgency to this campaign,” said Paul Halverson, founding dean of the Fairbanks School of Public Health. “Today, Indiana ranks 41 out 50 states when it comes to overall health. We’re even worse when it comes to smoking, 44 out of 50, and obesity, 43 out of 50. Our ranking when it comes to deaths from heart disease and stroke isn’t much better: just 39 out of 50. 

“The good news in all of this is that public health practices can help us reverse Indiana’s trend. The Just One Thing Challenge is a great way to help people take that all-important first step toward better health or help them take their efforts to the next level.”

Getting people to change their habits is a challenge, but the Just One Thing Challenge can work, said John Clymer, executive director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention. 

“By asking people to do just one thing to improve their heart health, we’re making change easy, fun and affordable,” Clymer said. “We’ve heard all kinds of things this month that people are doing, from walking more and eating more vegetables to doing pushups and jumping rope daily. We can improve heart health in Indiana by making one small change at a time.”

The IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health was established in 2012 at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana’s premier health sciences campus. It offers eight academic degree programs designed to prepare graduates to improve health for the people of Indiana and beyond. The school is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and is known for its expertise in a number of areas, including biostatistics, epidemiology, cancer research, community health, environmental public health, and health policy and health administration. It offers multiple bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, including the state’s only CAHME-accredited Master of Health Administration, as well as joint degrees in partnership with IUPUI schools including the IU School of Medicine and the IU McKinney School of Law.

The National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention brings together the most dynamic and diverse organizations in cardiovascular health, providing a forum and outlet for organizations to amplify their voices. Members include more than 80 U.S. and international organizations representing public, private, health care, advocacy, academic, policy and community sectors. The National Forum is a tax exempt, independent nonprofit, 501(c)(3), voluntary health organization.