We all read about the millions of people that have heart disease, and the millions who die from this each year. Many of these people are extremely obese and many look perfectly healthy! On the outside. I know I did!
I have heard comments from many people that they were completely surprised that I needed open heart surgery last year, 2016. More about this in my blog series, My Complete Loss and Recovery of Fitness.
Cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death in Canada and the United States. You can check this out at the Canadian Cancer Society and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.
They have many articles talking about risk factors and the most common ones are:
1) high blood pressure
2) high cholesterol
My blood pressure has always been a bit on the high side but after my surgery it was very high. I never tracked my cholesterol because I have always been relatively fit and didn’t think I needed to track it. And I smoked!
Now it looks to me like a recipe for disaster.
If you are following the same recipe I did…it is time to change that recipe, before it is too late.
I have always exercised a considerable amount. If I hadn’t I don’t think I would be here today. I smoked from the age of 14 until I was 37 years old. I don't think I had high cholesterol, but I don't really know. So you can see I had two of the three risk factors, and maybe 3 of them. To top that off I was born with a slight heart murmur. As I write this down and re-read it, I have to think that I have been extremely lucky to get to 70 years of age.
I quit smoking a long time ago, 1983 to be exact and I still have a blood pressure issue but I am getting it under control. Since I underwent open heart surgery 6 months ago, I have been told I need to be on drugs (for high blood pressure) likely for the rest of my life. That is not acceptable to me so I am determined to find another way. When I do, I will have pushed back all three risk factors.
You must remember that high blood pressure is called hypertension and we are told it happens naturally as we age because our blood vessels lose some of their elasticity. If you live a lifestyle with little or no exercise, the rate at which they lose elasticity is increased. So, we are somewhat in charge of this.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can be influenced by lifestyle. That means exercise and nutrition are the keys. Where have you heard that before?
I believe that nutrition is a huge part of fitness, maybe as much as 75% of fitness. You can exercise all you want, but if you maintain a bad diet you will never exercise your way past it.
Some common activities that can increase the workload on your heart and lungs (the engine) are walking, running, biking, swimming, wrestling with your grandchildren. These are called cardiovascular exercises and doing them will strengthen your heart muscle.
If you increase your cardio ability you will lower your resting heart rate and lower your blood pressure. In my case I have taken my blood pressure before working out and recorded something like 143 / 98…then worked out and rested 5 minutes, and recorded 120/ 78. I have done this many times over the last 6 months and my blood pressure is now almost always in the range of 120/80.
I record it and track it so I can compare trends. I am on two drugs for blood pressure. One to slow my heart rate and one to make my blood vessels more elastic.
By watching trends and continually increasing my aerobic capacity and my strength I am accountable to myself. I can help you do exactly the same thing. You can be accountable to me as your personal on-line Trainer.
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