In 1992, Michelle Esperanza’s father suffered a heart attack. He was 52 years old. Now a bit closer to that age herself, Esperanza has decided to make some lifestyle changes to take better care of her health.
“I'm not super-fit. I'm busy, like we all are, but I want to be sure I practice self-care so I can be around for my loved ones for years to come,” she said, noting that both her parents have high blood pressure and her mom is diabetic. “After my dad’s heart attack, he said, ‘I'm so glad to have a second chance at life.’ This has inspired me to make some healthy changes and to encourage others to do so too.”
A senior project manager at Southern California Edison (SCE), Esperanza is grateful her company has an on-site gym with fitness classes. The utility also offers a Preventive Health Account of up to $400 annually for approved activities and services to improve and maintain health such as gym memberships and fitness classes such as yoga.
For its focus on preventive healthcare, Edison International, SCE’s parent company, was recently recognized for the second year in a row as a Gold Level Recipient of the American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Worksite Recognition program.
“We are extremely honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association,” said Ted Craver, Edison International chairman, president and CEO. “Physical activity, as well as employee safety and well-being are very important priorities here at Edison, and we encourage all of our employees to take advantage of the health and wellness program offerings.”
Esperanza pointed to a study from the University of Texas Medical Center that concluded being or becoming fit in middle age appears to change the landscape of aging. Midlife fitness appears to lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Esperanza has now taken up yoga. She also recently attended a leadership program which inspired her to incorporate health and fitness goals into her daily routine. Dubbed the “Pro-Activity Movement,” she gathered a group of 25 individuals who were at or approaching middle-age where they would walk, do yoga or some other fitness activity rather than go out to eat.
She also gathered a group of co-workers during the lunch hour to take part in the company’s National Walking Day. In addition to encouraging fitness, SCE has also partnered with FarmBoxLA to provide local, organic produce to employees who sign up.
“I’m really grateful to be here at a company that supports these kinds of efforts,” she said.