Keeping Your Heart Happy and Healthy

Filed in Health, Sponsored Posts, Uncategorized by on February 21, 2013 27 Comments

healthy heart2Ten years ago I got a call one early morning from my half-sister to tell me my dad had died of a massive heart attack.

Although he and I, unfortunately, weren’t close, the news rendered me speechless, and as clear as day, I remember that huge lump that formed in my throat, cutting off my vocal chords as I struggled to respond, but literally couldn’t.  The only thing I could do was pass the phone to my husband.

My dad was only 48 years old.

And he had diabetes.

At the time, my brain couldn’t comprehend just how young he actually was. When you’re in your early 20’s, mid-40’s just sounds like a thought on a distant horizon.

As I turned 35 years old recently, 48 is staring me in the face, and I’m realizing just how prematurely my father died.

And I am my father’s daughter.

So what does that mean for me?

It means I am at risk, too.

No, I’m not overweight (although Lord knows I need to drop these last 18 pounds of postpartum weight gain!)……My fasting glucose is normal, too. And I eat a somewhat healthy vegetarian diet (Oreos are my weakness). But my A1C, which is a test that measures a person’s average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months, is always slightly elevated during my yearly physicals. This means that I am certainly at risk for developed diabetes, which is a major contributor to heart disease, if I am not mindful of my lifestyle choices.

The good news is that there are now so many resources and tools for helping people like me (and you) take charge of their heart health so that we don’t have to become another tragic statistic.


It’s Walgreens Healthy Heart Month!


It’s time to take care of your hearts, guys! Because according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD), about 600,000 people die of heart disease each year in the United States. That’s 1 out of 4 deaths. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

And if that’s not shocking, I don’t know what is.

And we don’t have to live with stats like that. And we don’t have to become a statistic because of our family history. Seriously. We can do something about it. And I have decided that now is the time for me to get my healthy heart on track, so I don’t have to end up like my dad.

One company that is striving to make a difference in how we all take care of our heart is Walgreens.

I had an opportunity to stop by my local Walgreens to pick up some heart healthy items, including testing out their awesome new mobile app and Walgreens Pandora channel (more on that in a sec).

I’ve been wanting to get one of those pedometers for the longest time. You know–the ones that count the number of steps you take each day. I know that at my “9-to-5” desk job, I don’t move nearly as much as I should be during the day! Now it was time to find out just how much I move.


Walgreens Mobile App — A Look at What It Can Do:

I’d heard that Walgreens had a new mobile app that provides a lot of value to its shoppers–everything from locating your nearest Walgreens, clipping store coupons, and–

Wait–what?? I can refill a prescription by scanning it??! That’s awesome! I am not on any medications, thankfully.  However, half of all Americans take at least one prescription medication, some of which are medications to keep their hearts in good working order, and I like that the Walgreen mobile app prescription refill could help encourage people to refill their prescriptions in a timely manner, which is always important when taking prescriptions. Plus, it saves time! And let’s face it–the easier it is to refill a prescription, the more likely that someone is going to follow the doctor’s orders and take it when prescribed. When you refill with this app, you can pick up your prescription only 20 minutes later. Super easy!

Plus, there a pill reminder. No reason to ever forget! Love that!

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

Using the app’s “SHOP” features, I searched my local Walgreens’ to see if they had pedometers in stock. I’ve been wanting one for the longest time! The truth is that my life is pretty sedentary. Well, lately it has been. I suffered with tendonitis in my ankle for a couple months, which began back in December, and that really put a dent in my activity level.

I’d taken to sitting down all day at work, with little ability to move as vigorously as I would have liked. So now that it’s begun to heal, I’m ready to start holding myself accountable again for making sure that I’m staying heart healthy and getting some daily physical activity.  Physical activity, along with a healthy diet, of course, is two of the most important things for me to do to make sure that I don’t develop diabetes like my dad, and to continue to maintain my fairly good health.

But first, I needed to find the right tools. I had no idea if Walgreens would have pedometers in stock, which will be key to  keeping myself in top shape. Loved that it was easy to look for what I needed with this app, by using the “SHOP” feature. Plus, any other things I’ll need to keep my heart healthy and in good shape, I can easily locate with the SHOP feature (and then add to my shopping list), such as omega-3 rich walnuts, and vitamins (including Vitamin E, garlic supplements, and Vitamin C).


After searching to make sure that Walgreens had pedometers (they did!), I drove to my local store to pick one up. I was excited to get one! I always get excited when I start a new “project.” And right now, I’m in “Project: Get Healthy” mode! I’m sure this extra 18 pounds of baby weight is negatively affecting my health, even if I feel totally fine. Time to get healthier!! I really want to live a long, healthy life….to see my 3 young boys (ages 6, 3, and 15 months) grow up.

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart


I found the pedometers in the Diabetes Care section. Isn’t that telling?? It says, “Use a pedometer, and you can help prevent or thwart diabetes.” Well, that’s what it says to me 🙂

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

I noticed those “Balance Reward” signs hanging down and I was curious about what that was. Does it mean I get free stuff? I’m DOWN!!! 🙂


After a few minutes I decided to ask a staff member where I could find the pedometers. She replied that they “didn’t have any” and that I could “only find them online.” At that point, I pulled out the handy mobile app and said, “Yeah, you do. It says so right here :)”. Maybe she was just confused, because another staff member pointed me back to the diabetes care section.

Speaking of pedometers, you DO know that you’re supposed to get about 10,000 steps a day, right?? That’s about 5 miles. I think the average person only gets about 2,500 steps per day. YIKES. It’s time to get moving!!!

Walgreens had several options of pedometers, but I went with a reasonably priced one that resembled a kitchen timer 🙂  No frills! In my opinion, you don’t need something with a million different buttons and options. Yes, this was going to suit me just fine!


Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

I also picked up another toothbrush….because did you know that tooth decay is linked to heart disease???? When I first heard that news, I was pretty shocked. You never think that your teeth could be linked to heart disease. But, yep, it’s true. Inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, has an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. Make sure you’re brushing at least twice a day, and going for routine dentist visits. I know that exercise and getting in enough movement in the day can be challenging, but making sure to brush twice a day is something we can all do to help prevent heart disease.

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart



While paying for my pedometer and new toothbrush, I signed up for the Balance Rewards program, which is cool because you save money on sale items, and you earn points. For example, if I fill a prescription at Walgreens, I earn 500 points. And for each mile that I walk, Walgreens will put 10 points on my Balance Rewards card. One I reach 5,000, I can start saving $5.00 off my next purchase. Who doesn’t like to get free money just for filling prescriptions and logging your steps??!


Walgreens balance rewards program




I also thought  it was pretty cool that, once you downloaded the mobile app, Walgreens offered to donate $1.00 to the American Heart Associate this month if I connected my Balance Rewards membership to my Facebook account.   Why, yes! What an easy way to contribute.


IWalgreens Happy & Healthy Heart



Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart



 Walgreens Pandora Radio

So did you know that Walgreens has a Pandora radio channel? I was a bit shocked to learn about their channel, but I couldn’t wait to find out more about it. When I logged into Pandora, the channel was playing artists like Katy Perry, Calvin Harris, Mumford & Sons, Luke Bryan, and Phillip Phillips — hits that were upbeat, positive, and high energy. What an awesome way to put together a collection of artists that you can listen to, for free, while you’re out on your walks, racking up pedometer steps! 🙂 Great idea, Walgreens! You’ve got a new listener!

By the way….don’t you LOVE that song, “Home” by Phillip Phillips?? Ahh…I love it!

 Walgreens Pandora Radio


Walking 10,000 Steps Per Day

The next day at work, I was super excited to get started with tracking my activity level! I’m in a sit-down job, so I knew it would be challenging to get it all in. But I couldn’t wait to see…..


Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

Wearing a pedometer is the best way to gauge how active or inactive you are. Be prepared, because you’ll discover that you’re probably a lot more sedentary than you even realize!

And yep, the one I bought looks a bit like a kitchen timer, but I could easily conceal it under my jacket and no one had to see. And even if they DID so, who cares?? If I’m being healthy, it doesn’t matter!

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

I’d like to say that I was successful in achieving my 10,000 recommended steps per day on the first day, but sadly….I fell short a whopping 4,755……Just goes to show you how sedentary I really can be!

I wasn’t discouraged, though!! It was a good assessment of my baseline. And I didn’t try to do anything differently that day.

Walgreens Happy & Healthy Heart

However, fast forward a few days…..
I went running today, for the first time in what feels like forever, now that my ankle is healing. The weather was beautiful, and it felt freeing to get out there and push rubber to the road. Of course I was wearing my new pedometer, and I couldn’t wait to see how I would fair by the end of the day. I even found myself parking super far in the grocery store parking lot, in an attempt to rack up more steps! And I’m proud to see that I achieved 11,062 steps today! A whopping 1,062 greater than the recommended 10,000! If I keep this up, for at least 4-5 days a weeks, I will feel so happy that I am doing something to prevent myself from being a heart attack video, just like my dad.

thriftdiving pedometer 2

thrift diving pedometer

If you’re interested in getting healthy and getting your heart pumping a little bit more, here are some ways to rack up steps:

Ways To Get More Steps

1. Talk a walk during lunch…..Chatting on Facebook while chowing down over my keyboard is not really an ideal way to spend my free time, don’t you agree?

2. Take the stairs……I usually don’t take the elevator, but adding a few more sets of stairs into my day could help boost my steps.

3. Park further away…..If you do this, you’ll always find a parking spot 🙂 All the other lazy people are wasting their time waiting for someone to pull out!

4. Run around with the kids…..I’ve got 3 young boys who, gladly, will help me stack up those missing 4,755 steps!



 So What Are YOU Going To Do to Make Your Hearty Happy and Healthy?

It’s easy to fall into the cracks of laziness and keep doing the unhealthy things that have become poor habits. Trust me, I do them, too! But now is the only time we have to change things. Later may be too late. Everything we do now is going to affect our healthy tomorrow. As I approach my 40’s, the threat of heart disease can be stopped in its tracks if I exercise, eat right, and do all the heart healthy practices to keep me healthy.

If you’d like to find out more about getting your heart healthy, check out #HappyHealthy on Twitter! Go check out Walgreens on Twitter and “LIKE” Walgreens on Facebook, too.

Here’s to getting our health straight!



I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Walgreens #cbias #SocialFabric. All of my opinions are my own, and will always be from the heart 🙂

Photo: Courtesy of Free Digital Photos





























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About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (27)

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  1. Kelly R says:

    This is a great post.. Thank you for sharing it. I have a pedometer and I think I need to start wearing mine. My dad passed away at the age of 64 from a massive heart attack, he did take care of himself though. I will be turning 40 this year and I really need to take better care of my health.

  2. rachel young says:

    I LOVE walgreens! lol.. we are there a lot during the week. The pedometer is a great way to help yourself stay healthy and stay motivated to move.. I think I’ll be dropping by to grab one! 🙂

  3. Annabelle says:

    I love this post, from the in-depth info about heart health and Walgreen’s app to your fun photos! I was in shock last year when my doctor told me I had high blood pressure. I relied too much on processed foods, and cutting them from my diet helped greatly, in addition to more exercise.

    • Serena says:

      Wow…high blood pressure is one of those diseases that creep up on you so slowly. I’m glad you were able to catch it early and make the necessary changes! 🙂

  4. Amy S. says:

    I didn’t have a clue that Walgreens sold Pedometers! I love Walgreens and especially love their new rewards program. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Stephanie says:

    I’m my father’s (and grandfather’s) daughter too and I hope that I can avoid the same medical needs as they had (bypass surgery & diabetes). I also have been battling the post-postpartum weight loss. We had 3 kids in 4 years and I’m only now starting to focus on what I can do to shed those last 15 lbs are killer!

  6. Jantje says:

    Dear Serena,
    thanks for all the insights! To be honest, people have been trying to talk me into one of those pedometers, but so far I resisted 🙂 I am usually always taking the stairs, even if it is six floors! I try to do 20 minutes of sports per day, at least, even if it just gets down to stretching some evenings.

    What helps me the best currently is to work while standing up. It is certainly difficult in the beginning, but I am now into my third week, and it gives you all this additional energy, great!

    • Serena says:

      Hey, Jantje! Have you seen those work stations that are like treadmills for the office? LOL Those things are expensive, but yeah, that would be an option, too! Sounds to me, though, like you’re one of those active people that don’t even NEED a pedometer! I work on the 6th floor and I always take the stairs. Now I’m just trying to work in some exercise. I’ve started jogging again! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  7. We have a Walgreens just a few blocks from the house. They have quickly become my one of my favorite places for wellness information.

  8. What a great and very informative post. I do try to run or workout in some way 4-5 times a week, but I’m also sedentary during the day working at a desk. Maybe I’ll get a pedometer soon too!

  9. Cathy says:

    That’s a nifty little app. I’m going to download it.

    I know I need yo take better care of my health. I’m overweight and over 50. My mom died last year from heart problems and she was diabetic. Of course she was in her 80’s.

    Fortunately, so far my cholesterol and glucose are very good for my age and weight. Just hope that continues as I age.

    Your dad was way too young to die.

  10. Iain says:

    That is a pretty neat app they have there. It would love to see more people make a useful app because many of them aren’t.

    I think the app is a great way of integrating one’s health into one app. With features like pill reminder and being able to search the store are fantastic.

    be well.

  11. Delana Groshans says:

    Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood rich in oxygen throughout your body. They go to your brain as well as to the tips of your toes. Healthy arteries have smooth inner walls and blood flows through them easily. Some people, however, develop clogged arteries. Clogged arteries result from a buildup of a substance called plaque on the inner walls of the arteries. Arterial plaque can reduce blood flow or, in some instances, block it altogether.;..-‘

    With kind regards

  12. I think this can be summed up with: “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.” by William Hazlitt

  13. Titus Hauer says:

    Very educational and informative. Also, not as much filler content as in other Posts I have read about this topic so very nice to see that. Keep it up!

  14. I appreciate this very interesting and informative article on how to keep our hearts healthy and happy.

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