Each year, the Alaska Heart Run marks the start of the race season. It's also an annual reminder of the significance of heart disease in the state, and the important role physical activity can play in avoiding it. 

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, heart disease claimed the lives of 799 Alaskans in 2017. 

"The important thing is there are things we can do to prevent it," said Dr. Jacob Kelly, a cardiologist with the Alaska Heart and Vascular Institute — adding that heart disease may include stroke, heart attack, heart failure and diabetes. 

Prevention doesn't have to include an activity as big as Saturday's run. Kelly recommends following the American Heart Association's physical activity guidelines, which includes 30 minutes of movement on most days of the week.

"Every single step that you do, every single movement you do adds up," Kelly said. 

He says some easy steps to get started include taking the stairs, scheduling walk breaks at work and holding meetings while walking.

"Just transition lack of movement into movement and you're actively fighting cardiovascular disease," Kelly said. 

Kelly himself plans to put the practice in motion this weekend as a participant in the heart run's 5k race, and he'll be in good company. The Alaska Heart Association says it expects 4,500-5,000 attendees. 

The 5k timed run kicks off from the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. The untimed 5k and 3k events start at 10 a.m. 

More information on the race, including registration, is available on the Alaska Heart Run website.

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