A number of years ago, the band Maroon 5 had a hit with the song “Moves Like Jaguar”. The Jagger referred to of course was Mick Jagger. The Song Facts website relates the following about this tune:
In the last post, I talked about the importance of exercising. Specifically, I discussed the various types of exercises a heart failure patient can do that will provide cardio benefits, improve strength, endurance and flexibility, and just put us in a better, resilient frame of mind.
But as a heart failure patient, I cannot ignore the fact that extreme weather can impact one's ability to exercise. In the summer, those dreaded H's known as heat and humidity can make it difficult for a heart failure patient to get in some of the cardio exercises that can strengthen the heart. Bummer – what is an obsessive exercise to do?
My day starts with probably the most important habit I follow as a patient with congestive heart failure. I begin my day with an extended exercise session. (This assumes of course that I have not been experiencing the now very rare bout of overwhelming fatigue). Why do I do this? Because all the websites I see that address congestive heart failure highly encourage patients to exercise. The websites address a variety of types of exercise that are appropriate to perform, but the type that gets the most attention is cardiovascular, also known as aerobic or cardio, exercise.
Why is this? Because according to the Cleveland Clinic website:
Why does it always seem that something becomes more enticing when you can’t have it? I must admit that other than liking to work out in the fitness center and attempting yoga, I have never been much of an athlete. I never had dreams of competing in an Olympic activity (unless they have added an event for clothes shopping). So why was I disappointed in February when I learned that I might be banned from ever competing in some Olympic sports?
Just what is the basis of the potential ban you ask? Is there a lifetime ban on clumsy people? Does my heart device give me an unfair advantage? Close but it is not the device that gives me an edge. No, those blasted beta blockers are the culprit.
Do you think coping with heart failure has been easy for me because was I born thin and with incredible discipline? Think again…
When people initially learn that I have heart failure, reactions are all across the spectrum. Two of the most interesting reactions I encounter are based on misunderstandings of my Type A nature and my avid fitness habits, and how they evolved.
So the first reaction is that I am living proof that it is useless to try to follow a health lifestyle. I can see people thinking – “Geez, if heart failure could happen to someone like Melanie, then what good were all of her efforts. She might as well have eaten and drank anything she wanted while she sat around watching television.” Wrong! Every piece of medical advice I have seen or heard on heart failure preaches eating carefully and getting as much exercise as you can tolerate. So I will always feel that I am fortunate that my fitness and diet disciplines were in place to help me hit the ground running when I was unwillingly recruited for the battle against heart failure.
I used to be able to tolerate weather extremes. I especially liked winter even if it was really cold. I never seemed to tire of being outside despite how hot or cold it was. In fact, up until my mother moved to Richmond in 2007, we used to take walks on Saturday and Sunday mornings each and every weekend.
I can’t believe some of the weather conditions we walked in. If it was really warm, we would just drink water, put on shorts and walk. If it was really cold we would bundle up in layers and walk. If it was raining, we would take our umbrellas and walk. And if it was icy or snowy, somehow we would find ways to evade major patches or ice or mounds of snow so that we could get in our walks. We were both Type A walking fanatics!
This winter, I started taking a yoga class each Saturday morning at my church. The instructor is this uber energetic woman who has a full-time job, but also teaches and attends numerous yoga classes in her spare time. I am amazed that she can fit all this into her schedule, but I am also grateful that she has the time to teach us inexperienced but hopeful yogis.
The class only has a few regular students. What that means is that each of the students gets a lot of personalized attention. That is such a plus when you’re trying to learn some of these yoga poses that defy flexibility and the limits of the normal 60-year old human body. Our instructor even gives us handouts to show what the poses are supposed to look like in case we want to practice at home. I bet you have already figured out that Type A Melanie definitely wants to practice at home.
Having examined the title to this post, you are probably saying: "Who in the world is this Brady Cardia person? I have not seen his boxing matches advertised on Xfinity on Demand?"
The answer would be that bradycardia is not a person. It is a heart condition – I mean, this is a heart health blog right? So I occasionally throw in some medical terms so you can keep the sometimes amusing, sometimes serious tone of this blog in context.
Does it seem illogical that I should exercise when I have a heart that doesn’t pump blood properly? I think back to the period of months where I had two blackouts while exercising in a fitness room. At that time, I stopped any exercise routine until we figured out what was wrong with me.
Despite my precaution, I would get dizzy just walking to and from the subway or performing any normal walking activity at work. People would say to me – If you want to get better why are you still exercising??!!??! I would have to explain to them that it wasn’t exercise that was causing my issues anymore, but just normal activities that we all do.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. She spent the next 7 years learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth. Then in October 2020, she received a heart transplant. This blog is about her journey of the heart.