CycleNation Southern and Western Maine, a new event from the American Stroke Association, is kicking off on Dec. 28, giving participants 30 days to complete fitness and exercise goals while fundraising.

CycleNation Southern and Western Maine, an event hosted by the American Stroke Association, is kicking off on Dec. 28. Participants have 30 days to complete their fitness goals and fundraise, and a virtual celebration event will then take place on Jan. 28. Courtesy photo

The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, which has an office in Scarborough, is excited to launch the virtual event this winter and get people active, said Brenda Vitali, communications director for the American Heart Association Northern New England.

“We are dedicated to building longer, healthier lives,” Vitali said. “We’re focused on brain and heart health in terms of heart disease, stroke, heart defects. We’re funding research around the effects of COVID-19 around the heart.”

Originally planned for August, the event allows people to now set their own goals and track their progress, Katie Rooks, event director, said.

“As an organization, what we’ve been able to do is switch this slightly so it’s not just a one-day event,” she said. “It’s a 30-day, active participation event. So we have trackers associated with the event, so when you sign up there’s the ability to track your physical activity in your website page or in your phone. You can download an app and it can track your miles.”

Participants set a goal to be physically active and a financial goal for support from friends and families, Rooks said.

Fat-tire biking, skiing, snowshoeing and stationary biking are examples of what some participants are planning to do, she said.

CycleNation is starting right before New Year’s Day as a motivator for people who may have a New Year’s resolution to exercise more and stay active, Rooks said.

“It’s the hardest month to get out there and do something, so that’s why we’re doing this in January, to target those people who need others to root them on,” she said.

Courtesy photo

Participants may also feel passionate about stroke awareness, have had a family history of heart disease, or want to help contribute to research, Rooks said.

According to information from the American Heart Association provided by Vitali, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. One in 19 deaths are from a stroke, and about 795,000 people will have a stroke within the year.

Most people are familiar with a ischemic stroke, said Rooks, which is when a clot cuts off blood flow to a portion of the brain.

About 690,000 strokes each year are ischemic strokes, the American Heart Association reported. High blood pressure increases the risk of strokes.

The American Heart Association said that the organization wants people to stay active and exercise in order to decrease the risk of a stroke or heart disease.

To sign up for the event, visit  www2.heart.org/cyclenationsouthernmaine.

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