By Dr. Michael Rocha
New Bedford Wellness Initiative

February is heart month and there are so many fantastic ways to keep our hearts healthy!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for our hearts and walking with friends is a fun way to strengthen our social connections. The “Walk with a Doc” program is now in its sixth year of wellness walks.

Every Saturday in the winter, we meet at the Dartmouth Mall near the AMC theaters at 9 a.m. Local doctors start each walk with a healthy discussion and then the group walks up to four laps in the mall for about two miles. People walk at their own pace and only as far as they feel comfortable.

The mall benches are great for a break if you need them. Mall walking is a free, safe and fun way to keep moving in the winter.

The free, weekly wellness program continues every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with classes on aerobics, meditation, yoga, qigong, and nutrition at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford on Jenney Street. Some Sundays include free massage therapy and Reiki.

Also, for anyone struggling to quit smoking, John Barboza, a certified hypnotist, will be at the Boys and Girls Club on Feb. 16. All of these great offerings are free, and all you need to do is show up!

February 9th marks the 5th annual Love Your Heart New Bedford event, which is a citywide blood pressure screening and heart education event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at eight sites.

The first step to controlling blood pressure is to know your numbers. High blood pressure is one of the most important preventable causes for strokes and heart attacks. Learn about blood pressure and ways to lower it.

Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church, the Indoor New Bedford Farmers Market is held. You can stock up on fresh local vegetables, which are an important part of a heart-healthy diet.

If you want to join the New Bedford Wellness Initiative, you can find us on Facebook at and on the web at, where you can sign up for our weekly email.

Together we can build a live-well community.

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