For Valentine’s Day – Health Through Exercise

Expressing love through gifts of flowers, cards and candy is customary on Valentine’s Day, which is observed each year on February 14. But instead of promoting candy consumption, a nonprofit group called Charities Challenge is promoting health through exercise by holding its fourth annual Valentines “Hearts ‘r’ Running” five-kilometer race on February 11, 2012, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Many Americans try to make holidays more meaningful by “emphasizing active living, health and shared happiness,” says fitness specialist Gary Westlund, who founded Charities Challenge on Valentine’s Day 2003.

Headquartered near Minneapolis/St. Paul, Charities Challenge aims to improve health and fitness, reduce health risks and enhance disease management via goal-oriented exercise. The organization hosts several annual races and encourages everyone to exercise, including people with arthritis, cancer, heart disease or other ailments.

Seen here are Valentines “Hearts ‘r’ Running” 2011 race participants Karin Schooley, left, and Jill Conlin, wearing heart-shaped headgear.

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