Mass General has kicked off its second annual 30x30 Stop Stroke Challenge, aimed at helping prevent stroke and increase physical and mental well-being. In honor of Stroke Awareness Month, the Neurology Department has challenged hospital staff to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, every day during the month of May.

“Exercise should be a regular part of every day,” says Lee Schwamm, MD, executive vice chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center. “While we’re emphasizing that May is Stroke Awareness Month, we’re also trying to jumpstart people’s rededication to exercise. We don’t want people to do this once. We want it to become part of their everyday routine.”

Schwamm says exercise is important in preventing stroke because it helps the heart and blood vessels relax more easily, especially if blood flow is reduced. It also decreases inflammation and therefore the likelihood of blood clots forming.

Mass General employees can participate in the challenge as individuals or form a team. A tracking form can be downloaded from our challenge page and submitted at the end of the month to be entered to win a free month’s membership at the Clubs at Charles River Park. Club members who log 30 days at the gym in May also will be entered to win a free month’s membership. Several stroke prevention-related events are slated, including a group fitness class at 8 am on May 29 on the Bulfinch Lawn.

“If you don’t believe in it, you can’t walk the walk, and you can’t be as effective in convincing your patients of its importance,” says Schwamm. “If we’re going to make a difference and make a dent in diabetes and obesity and vascular disease and dementia, we must start taking an active role in this. It’s about engaging in health.”