Canadians took to their phones last month to share photos and videos of themselves completing physical activity challenges in support of women’s heart health.
And in doing so, they raised more than just their heart rate.
JUMP IN™ for Women’s Heart Health is a national fundraising and women’s heart health promotion initiative supporting research, education, and program expansion at the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC) at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI).
“Heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide and the leading cause of premature death in Canadian women, yet women everywhere are under studied, under diagnosed, under treated, and under aware when it comes to their heart health,” said Dr. Thais Coutinho, head of the Division of Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation at the UOHI, and chair of the CWHHC.
More than 2,200 participants paid a $20 fee to access daily activities and information to keep them on track and motivated all month long. It is estimated participants completed more than 4 million minutes of exercise.
“JUMP IN™ is about starting an important conversation and raising awareness for women and their health care providers to ensure heart disease is identified and treated quickly,” says Executive Director of the UOHI Foundation Lianne Laing. Laing recalls the idea for JUMP IN™ originated in 2020 to increase donor support in Ottawa when in-person events were pivoting to online-only formats.
“Canadians from coast to coast to coast found 30 minutes each day for 30 days to show love for their heart by taking a walk, going for a bike ride, trying a yoga class, and even throwing a little dance party in their living rooms with their children or grandchildren,” said Laing.
Registered participants received weekly updates from the Foundation promoting a wealth of healthy content, including Lunch n’ Learns, interviews with heart patients and experts, lectures, podcasts, and dozens of wellness tips. “Jumpers” were encouraged to share pictures and videos of themselves completing challenges using the hashtag #JUMPIN4HeartHealth. New in 2021, a 30-day daily activity calendar offered recommendations to help people plan their wellness journey.
We wanted to make jumping in and finding a community as accessible as possible for people of all fitness levels.
- Lianne Laing, UOHI Foundation
“We wanted to make jumping in and finding a community as accessible as possible for people of all fitness levels,” said Laing. “We were thrilled by how many companies responded and ‘jumped in’ to support the cause, offering their services to Canadians free of charge.”
Surprising was the number of team enrolments. Registrations included a young women’s hockey team and their moms, an airport authority staff, a nursing unit from Saskatoon and, in Winnipeg, a SCAD (spontaneous coronary artery dissection) support group made fundraising for future patients an objective of their own recovery.
Staff of the Heart Institute embraced the opportunity to get active. Many engaged often on social media.
The Exercise Physiology and Cardiovascular Health Laboratory also produced videos to share with JUMP IN™ participants – demonstrating safe and accessible ways to get active for all ages.
“I am humbled and amazed by the response from our Heart Institute family, our family of donors, our community, and everyone who participated this year,” said Laing. “We are excited about the future. We hope to continue to build on our momentum and to inspire people to continue to lead healthy, active lifestyles, not just in September, but all year round.”