You are enjoying the glorious weather, walking briskly by the beach one July day, the gentle breeze whistling through your hair. Your walking companion is doing the same. You see a cluster of people in the distance, and hurry to join them, wondering if someone’s been attacked by a shark. Someone’s administering CPR. You then see paramedics rushing to the in the centre of the cluster. In a flash you see: the paramedics have a defibrillator. The 40-odd-year-old obese man lying in the sand in a bathing suit has had a heart attack. It takes four hefty paramedics to heave him onto the stretcher.
You wait till he’s loaded into the ambulance, then continue walking with your companion, the silence between you bringing home the relief. In sync, you both look at each other and say “Whew!” That could have been you, had you not heeded your doctor’s advice ten months before. You both take a sip of water and carry on walking, talking about the day last September when your doctor told you you’d be a prime candidate for a heart attack within a year unless you lost fifty pounds. You walk on, aware of your trim waist, your excellent posture, and the sheer energy you have.
The first heart attack is, all too often, the closing chapter in a person’s life. In other words, it’s your way of saying “Goodbye, World” . When the media announcement of a prominent and much-loved journalist is made people in high and low places register “shock” and “disbelief”. “How could that be?” they say, he was just talking to the cameraman yesterday, right here, before we went to the Steakhouse. (The one that serves a mega-sized portion of fries with each steak and lobster combo). As the news is repeated the details come out: Jim knew he was overweight. He said he would take up jogging again after the big events of the Fall, he really enjoyed his daily double lattes. Jim knew, but concluded that later would do.
If you pour water into a glass till it’s full, it will run over. If you put an elephant on your golden retriever’s back, Rover will keel over. If you jump from a plane without a parachute…well, guess what! In a world where virtual reality rules we are often lulled into the lethargy of thinking that later on will do. You might think:
“Heart attacks happen to other people. I can work round the clock, depriving my body of sleep,eat reheated preservatives laced with hormone-infused meat, chug mega- servings of high fructose corn syrup in rainbow colours, sprinkle enough salt to preserve my organs, forget exercise, and never, ever have a thing to worry about.”
That’s the philosophy that made the University of De Nile’s Medical School world-famous. Now here’s the scoop. You are not a robot with replaceable parts. You have one heart. Mistreat it and you will die prematurely, quite possibly painfully. Quite possibly never having done everything you’d planned to. When they open you up they will see yellow globs blocking your arteries, blood saturated with triglycerides, and a poor, tired heart glad to have been relieved of the daily struggle of getting blood to your brain. Is this part of your plan? Many seem to be declaring it part of theirs.
Take a look at the crowds in the street, at a movie house, at a convention.
Take a look at the waddlers, the size 20’s.
Could they be planning on joining that man on the sand?
It’s probably not that they don’t know. The internet overflows with statistics.
The Canadian Heart and Stroke associations remind us that someone in this country dies of heart disease every 7 minutes. Even with Heart month, Jump Rope For Heart, heart walkathons, heart fundraiser concerts, and practically everyone knowing someone who has had a heart problem, if not a heart attack, we still blithely ignore the warnings. We all too often see exercise as something to fit in if we can when all else is done. What a difference it would make to the nation’s health if we were to schedule exercise in each day, say a week at a time.
Do you realize that choices that are good for the heart are automatically good for the brain? Exercise does all that for you. It lightens the heart’s daily load by dislodging the toxins from the nooks and crannies. It then makes you thirsty, which makes you reach for the water, which then flushes the toxins out of your system. Exercise will do all this and more.
If you want to:
- Boost your immune system
- Increase your bone mass
- Reduce the risk of Erectile dysfunction
- Banish fatigue
- Think clearly
- Improve your heart function
- Get those mood-enhancing endorphins flowing
- Regulate the appetite
- Reduce the risk of cancer
- Improve your eyesight
- Reduce the occurrence of macular degeneration
- Strengthen your heart muscles
Of course, you have to build exercise into your day.
Because exercise gets the lymph flowing, helps clear mental and physical blocks, it enables you to regulate your appetite and relax. It is the greatest stress reducer available to you without pharmaceuticals. Your heart loves it. If you are trying to quit smoking, exercise will help you take the burden off the heart by reducing withdrawal symptoms. The increase of regular blood flow to the brain will help reduce the likelihood of a stroke, and in the event of one occurring, speeds up rehabilitation. Thanks to the feel-good hormones released during exercise you will be more inclined to do more. It affords you better opportunities to build a social network, which in turn helps with your general sense of well-being, so crucial to stress reduction.
Given the choice between dieting and exercising, you will find that exercising will subtly lead you to make better choices. It is a naturally intergenerational activity; it is balm for the heart. Many restaurants offer heart-healthy choices. Choose them if they do not compensate by adding more sugar, and your hardest-working muscle will thank you. Making these choices at home will, of course, contribute to your heart health. One death every 7 minutes can be reversed. It just takes a decision. Better than that, there is help out there. Health coaches
can help you tailor your diet, exercise and sleep to fit your particular needs, by taking your unique medical history and building a program around your goals.
© Jacquelyn Johnston, M.Ed., is a certified professional Health Coach and educator with the expertise and experience to help her personal and corporate clients reach and sustain optimal health and weight. Through her carefully customized programs and weekly supportive coaching calls, clients make the gains–and losses–that are difficult to achieve alone. She has been an active health advocate for more than twenty years. She shares her vast expertise through keynotes, seminars and individual coaching for those ready to lose weight, and those wanting to prevent or manage diabetes, diabesity, liver or heart disease. Get a free report, a complimentary discovery session, and more.