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Exercise for your heart’s sake: Tom’s Story

Tiom Chappell Did you know that the best way to avoid a heart episode, and to rebuild your heart muscle if you’ve experienced a heart attack, is exercise? Regular exercise sends extra blood to the heart muscle and surrounding vessels, which helps the body adapt to stress by building new blood vessels and strengthening muscles.

Tom Chappell has always been a walker. With dogs to exercise, it’s been a normal part of life for him. But four years ago, he started to notice that walking uphill was leaving him more breathless than normal. Tom’s dad died from a heart attack at the age of 45, so Tom was very alert to his symptoms. When he noticed some jaw pain, he made an appointment. Within the week, he’d undergone a quintuple bypass surgery—and avoided a massive heart attack.

It was after his surgery recovery that Tom’s exercise routine ramped up. He entered Cardiac Rehab at Upland Hills Health and has added regular cardio and strength training exercise to his walking routine. “I’m not one who really enjoys exercise,” says Tom, “But I’ve found it’s good for my arthritis, my back pain has decreased, and my asthma has improved. It keeps up my strength for everyday things around the house too, so I’m bound and determined to keep doing it.”

In addition to continuing to walk his dogs two and a half miles each day, and his exercise in Cardiac Rehab three days a week, Tom has completed the 5K walk that Upland Hills Health sponsors, for the last three years.

“Tom’s commitment to his health is exactly what we work toward in Cardiac Rehab. Unfortunately for heart disease, and many other chronic conditions, there is not a ‘magic pill’ or a one-medication program that will take away the condition,” explained Lance Maerz, Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist and co-manager of the Cardiac Rehab program at Upland Hills Health. “Research continues to prove that exercise is the simplest form of therapy or medicine for our entire body. When we exercise, we instantly improve our blood pressure, blood sugar, stress levels, cholesterol values, depression symptoms, circulation throughout the body, immune function, and much more. That’s not even to mention our risk of chronic conditions! Exercise is the Magic Pill. Remember a 30 minute workout, which is the current recommendation of moderate exercise, is only 2% of our day! Making it a priority is a must for good health.”

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