Lessons from the Her Heart Challenge

Last Modified: 2/18/2021

Her Heart

The Her Heart Challenge, offered through the Parkview Heart Institute, has been a staple of the Her Heart programming since 2016, focusing on women’s unique cardiovascular needs and risks for heart disease.  

Every August, the Her Heart team selects 25 women though an in-depth interview process and takes them on a weekend-long retreat to kick off the 12-week program. This is followed by weekly meetings with Parkview Health experts who lead discussions on how to decrease risk factors and lower the chances of developing heart disease through lifestyle changes.

A safe approach

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Jill Zahm, program coordinator, grappled with how to provide this valuable program, which is dependent on relationships between the women and the educators. Social distancing protocols meant that it would be impossible to hold the hallmark retreat where women step away from their day-to-day lives to really think about why they want to live heart healthy. Simply put, in the midst of a global pandemic, the traditional approach just wasn’t going to work.

With safety top of mind, all in-person meetings were canceled, but the team did not want the program to be a loss for the year. Thus, a new concept emerged: Her Heart Challenge Recharge 2020.

From August through November, all of the past Her Heart Challenge graduates had the opportunity to join a virtual program. When 56 women gathered virtually for the first session, it was obvious that this was a much-needed connection in this time of social distancing. The education sessions were quickly reformatted to offer an open chat for the first 15 minutes to allow the women to reconnect.

Recharge success stories

In the Her Heart Challenge we like to say you now have a tribe of support for life, and although the content of the meetings is focused on education regarding healthy lifestyle, the connections that form, especially during this tumultuous time, are for lack of a better word, precious.

“This Recharge has meant so much to me. I wish this could keep going. This has kept me a little sane during this pandemic,” participant Mary Jo said.

The foundation of the Her Heart Challenge is learning to love yourself first, knowing that once you have that foundation you begin to give your body what it needs to be healthy. Each participant completes a well-being self-assessment to provide insight to the participant regarding their health status and also to provide valuable metrics to the success of the program overall. During the Recharge, 74% of the group improved their well-being score. This sort of accountability allows each participant to gain their own sense of accomplishment.

At the close of the 2020 program, participant Andrea shared her gratitude. “Thank you for doing this program. I have looked forward to and learned from every session and have experienced major changes. I have lost enough weight since August that I am no longer classified as obese for the first time in 25 years. Even in spite of COVID restrictions I've enjoyed exercise more. I feel so much better and have enjoyed pulling clothes out of the closet that I haven't worn since losing weight during chemo.” 

While 2020 brought a number of challenges and setbacks, it also brought unforeseen blessings. As we celebrate with Andrea and Mary Jo, and reflect on all of the invaluable wellness insights our participants gained, we also find ourselves filled with appreciation for a much-needed recharge for our Her Heart tribe.  

Apply for the Her Heart Challenge

The Her Heart Challenge is one of the programs the Parkview Heart Institute offers to assist patients in living heart-healthy lives through education and awareness. If you’re interested in addressing your heart health concerns and being proactive in improving your well-being, you can apply to join the challenge here.


Need assistance?

Contact us