Friday, December 01, 2006

Hypertension 17: Exercise, or, Just Shoot Me Now

Along with starting four brand new medications, if I was serious about doing something about my Hypertension I also had to look at exercising and dieting.

Being a good North American, I had avoided proper exercise my whole life. My body paid the price. I can not say I now regret that--I am pretty much an of-the-moment person. I enjoy it while I got it. Now it was time to not have it any more.

I joined a gym the day after the specialist took me off work. I was to be away from my job for several months, from October 4, 2006 until early February, 2007. This was to give me time to adjust to the new medications, and to start exercising and dieting. Finally I had the motivation I had lacked before. I had known my life and good health were at stake before,but had thought pills and/or herbs would do the trick. Now I knew that if I was going to save myself, I had to go beyond medical treatment. Beyond medical science. Beyond anything acceptable. Yes, I had to sweat.

The gym I went to is called the Rehfit Centre. It is a nonprofit organization largely used by cardiac and other patients, although anyone can join. It was expensive, but that helped me feel I was making a commitment. It offered many services for the money, including a wonderful facility, onsite trained staff (including nurses and a dietician), along with various programmes.

After signing up they had me see a staff nurse because I was there for Hypertension. She took my blood pressure (which I think was 184 systolic) and said I should have my blood pressure taken each time I visited the gym, and the results would be forwarded regularly to my doctor. I was far from the worst-off patient they had. I was a code blue, while code yellow was the worst (a code yellow has someone with him or her at all times, while me they could leave alone--although I was given a numbered blue tag to put on my sneaker laces so that if I croaked while exercising they would know who I was).

I was not exactly into exercising, as you have guessed by now, but I knew I had to do it. It took a while before I stopped showing up with my gym clothes in a plastic bag, and got a proper gym bag. I even bought a pair of sneakers, and got out the sweat pants my wife had bought me...oh, a year earlier?

I did not find it a huge amount of fun to get on a treadmill and walk to nowhere. Nor was it a hoot to climb onto a stationary bicycle and peddle for no obvious reason. But that is what exercise is, in its own sick twisted wretched disgusting way. You are not running away from anything or to anything, and if you want me to say I was running towards good health, I'll spank you right now!

Gym exercise is profoundly pointless. Our ancestors used to get proper exercise by actually burning calories while working. But modern folks? For those of us with office jobs, we barely burn enough calories to toast a marshmallow.

On a treadmill, you don't even walk in circles. You just walk. What a profoundly depressing way to spend your life: working up a sweat for the sole purpose of working up a sweat.

Still, one of the best ways to reduce your blood pressure is to steadily exercise. It helps strengthen your heart and reduce your weight. It is good for you. Good? I spit on that good!!!

As you can tell, there was a certain degree of kicking and screaming on my part.

Of course, if I had to exercise, this gym was better than I could hope for. It was huge, clean, well ventilated. The men's change room was carpetted! There was even a sauna and steam room. You could shower naked with the boys, or used a curtained off booth so they would not see how small your penis was. Golly, who could ask for more?

At first I tried watching the little tvs in front of each treadmill, but I'd get distracted by the tv and slip off. It was worse with the bicycle, which would go into 'pause' mode if you stopped peddling fast enough. Actually, that was my big secret fear about a treadmill: that as in some Roadrunner/Wylie Coyote cartoon, I would take a wrong step and suddenly shoot backwards.

Big tip: after only a few visits, I bought an MP3 player and loaded it with songs, everything from the Rolling Stones to Tom Lehrer to Lords of Acid to Beethoven to Charlie Parker to Bob Dylan to Weird Al. There is nothing like trudging to nowhere while listening to great music.

I really don't want to write more about exercising. Isn't life depressing enough?


AEDhub99 said...

I recently published an article on AEDs – here is a quote from it, in case you are interested:

Statistics give us more and more pieces of information that are bound to worry us, to make us react and change something if we can. More and more people and in earlier and earlier stages of their life die of a heart disease. Statistics, only in the US, are extremely alarming:
- Every 30 seconds someone dies because of a heart disease;
- More than 2.500 Americans die daily because of heart diseases;
- Every 20 seconds there is a person dying from a heart attack;
- Each year 6 million people are hospitalized because of a heart disease;
- The number 1 killer is a heart disease.
Although AEDs are not a universal panacea for all heart diseases, nothing else can compete to its major feature, that of actually re-starting the heart after it has been stopped by a sudden cardiac arrest. Under these circumstances is it necessary to ask you why anyone in this world, any family, in any home would hope for having such a device in their first aid locker?

If you feel this helps, please drop by my website for additional information, such as Public Access Defibrillation PAD or additional resources on AED manufacturers such as Philips defibrillators, Zoll AEDs or Cardiac Science AEDs.



Victor Schwartzman said...

Hi Michael! I went to your blog site, and the other sites, but found no way to contact you.
I would certainly agree that it is a great idea to have first aid devices available in public places, to assist people in emergencies.
If you contact me directly with an email, we could talk!