One of the most valuable aspects of your heart rehabilitation was taking part in exercise sessions supervised by professional cardiac rehabilitation staff who worked with you to develop a program to restore your heart health. The opportunity to attend educational sessions helped to improve your knowledge of heart healthy best practices. A less obvious aspect of the program was the chance to meet with other people who share your interest in heart healthy living.
As we wrap up our 6 to 8 week rehabilitation program we all commit to maintaining our physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle. It is easy to let this commitment slip over time unless you are working with others who share these values.
What should do you do now that your rehabilitation sessions are over and you want to continue living a healthy lifestyle? Consider joining CASE.
Membership in CASE encourages you to become part of our group. We exercise for up to an hour and a quarter, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, throughout the year, at the Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre. There is also an on-line Essentrics program Mondays and Wednesdays led by a certified instructor who has worked with heart patients for more than 20 years. During the summer we also participate in casual walks and play 9-holes of golf.
In addition to the exercise program, CASE brings in external speakers on heart related topics. Heart Murmurs, our newsletter, is published 8 times a year and includes articles on heart management issues as well as upcoming events. CASE members build strong friendships and share social and recreational activities outside the association's scheduled events.
Annual membership in CASE is $30 per year. In addition, there is a cost for using City of
Edmonton recreation facilities. A significant financial benefit of CASE membership is the opportunity to purchase memberships City of Edmonton recreation facilities at a significant discount.
We would love to have you join us.
One of the very best gifts you can give your heart is physical activity. In fact, pairing regular exercise with a Mediterranean-style diet , maintaining a normal weight and not smoking is a great protection plan against coronary artery disease and vascular disease, Johns Hopkins research has found.
Not convinced such simple steps could be so powerful? These four lifestyle factors reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over the eight-year period that more than 6,200 subjects were tracked.
“For certain heart conditions, exercise can be as powerful as some medications,” says Johns Hopkins expert Kerry Stewart, Ed.D.
Understanding just how physical activity benefits your heart can be strong motivation to get moving to get moving more. Here's what to know.
1. Exercise lowers blood pressure.
Exercise works like beta-blocker medication to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure (at rest and also when exercising). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
2. Exercise is key to weight control.
Especially when combined with a smart diet, being physically active is an essential component for losing weight and even more important for keeping it off, Stewart says—which in turn helps optimize heart health. Being overweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
3. Exercise helps strengthen muscles.
A combination of aerobic workouts (which, depending on your fitness level, can include walking, running, swimming, and other vigorous heart-pumping exercise) and strength training (weight lifting, resistance training) is considered best for heart health. These exercises improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood. That reduces the need for the heart—a muscular organ itself—to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles, whatever your age.
4. Exercise can help you quit smoking.
As smokers become more fit, they often quit. And people who are fit in the first place are less likely to ever start smoking, which is one of the top risk factors for heart disease because it damages the structure and function of blood vessels.
5. Exercise can stop or slow the development of diabetes.
Johns Hopkins research has shown that when combined with strength training, regular aerobic exercise such as cycling, brisk walking, or swimming can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50% by allowing the muscles to better process glycogen, a fuel for energy, which when impaired, leads to excessive blood sugars, and thus diabetes.
6. Exercise lowers stress.
Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercise—whether aerobic (like running), resistance-oriented (like weight training) or flexibility-focused (like yoga)—can help you relax and ease stress.
7. Exercise reduces inflammation.
With regular exercise, chronic inflammation is reduced as the body adapts to the challenge of exercise on many bodily systems. This is an important factor for reducing the adverse effects of many of the diseases just mentioned.
If you have completed a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Exercise you will have a very good idea of what your exercise limits are. If you have not done a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, it is important to tell your doctor what kind of exercise activities you intend to participate in and find out if there are any specific restrictions you should be aware of when exercising.
Please let your CASE instructor know about your exercise restrictions.
CASE Instructors modify their exercise programs to meet the needs of majority people who participate, but it is difficult to tailor the programs to meet everyone’s specific needs. In some instances, you may have to slow down or find an alternative to a particular exercise that you cannot do. The onus is on you to modify the intensity of your exercise program to stay within the recommended limits set by your health care provider.
Are friendships and social networking — real life or online — as important to your health as diet and exercise? You might not think so, but science is proving otherwise. Studies published many decades ago found loneliness in old age can have significant negative effects on health and longevity.
Recent research has connected the benefits of fulfilling social relationships and social networks directly to specific health issues, including inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease—and not just in later life, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Real-Life Social Relationships
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill researchers found the quantity and quality of social relationships throughout our lives affects our risk for developing cardiovascular disease during different stages of our lives.
The study found socially active aging adults living longer and that social isolation in later life can be harmful, raising the risk for developing and controlling hypertension. They also found was that social relationships in our early years — particular adolescence — extremely important, setting the stage for good health and lowering the risk of hypertension.
During middle age, however, it’s not so much the number of social relationships we have but how deep and supportive (or strained) they are that affects health. There’s a link between social isolation in our younger years and increased risk of inflammation and obesity, raising the risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease as we age.
The study’s lead researcher believes broad social skills are as important to building the foundation for good health as physical activity, good nutrition and healthy eating habits. And while quantity of social connections is important when we’re both young and old, the quality of our relationships is what counts during our middle years.
Other research has found that social isolation and loneliness can directly increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by as much as almost a third (29 percent and 32 percent respectively) — similar to the impact of job stress and anxiety — two risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Social Networking for Heart Health
Having meaningful relationships and support in person has tremendous value to our health, but so do some virtual relationships and support systems. Following health influencers and experts on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, for example, can actually help you reach your health goals. You can read informative blogs, learn great tips and gather healthful recipes. And sharing the information among online friends helps you foster relationships that provide support and help keep you motivated — whether it’s completing a half marathon or maintaining a heart healthy diet.
But there’s the phenomenon of ‘social contagion’—the indirect effect (positive or negative) that social networks can have on our health. Why? Because we’re so interconnected your friends’ friends on Facebook can also influence your health. If your friends friends are focused on living a healthy lifestyle, there’s a good chance everyone connected with them are too, which can ultimately benefit you. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true. Surrounding yourself online or in person with potentially destructive people may impact your health negatively.
The Bottom Line
Socializing can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and social support can help you recover from heart health issues. Share the status of your family relationships, social life, hobbies, community involvement and online presence with your primary care physician, cardiologist and other specialists so they can evaluate the depth of your relationships and how it may affect your health.
MDVIP (2023, August 03). The Heart Health Benefits of Being Social
CASE makes a significant difference in the lives of people interested in maintaining their heart health. When you make a contribution to CASE we will provide you with a charitable tax receipt.
Charitable Organization Registration #140485996RR0001