I have a wooden plaque hanging on the outside door of my walk-in closet that reads, "'One Shoe Can Change Your Life' by Cinderella."
For me, that shoe is a walking shoe! Sitting among the high heels, pumps and designer boots, seemingly out of place, are my trustworthy, life-saving, road-worn walking shoes. Those shoes keep my heart pumping strong, my blood pressure controlled, my cholesterol within normal range, my mood elevated and my pants comfortable! I guess I can truthfully say that one shoe has, in fact, changed my life. Of course in the literal sense, two shoes. My walking shoes, named Lucy and Ethel, help prevent me from developing coronary heart disease and associated risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Our coronary arteries are located directly on our heart and feed our heart with rich, oxygenated blood. Exercise strengthens the pumping action of the heart and helps keep those arteries clear for blood flow.
When we don't exercise or engage in any physical activity, our coronary arteries are at risk for developing fatty plaque that can build up and clog the artery. Think of the bacon grease left in the frying pan. After a couple of hours, it turns hard. This is similar to how plaque accumulates in our arteries. Don't get me wrong - I love bacon as much as the next person - but not in my arteries! A clogged artery could then lead to a heart attack.
Let's talk about what happens when one of those coronary arteries does become blocked. As a general rule of thumb, brain cells begin to die after approximately four to six minutes with no blood flow to the heart. After around 10 minutes, those cells will cease functioning and be effectively dead. So I guess at this point, I would ask you if 10 minutes is worth living for? It takes about 10 minutes for your heart to die without blood flow. It also takes about 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day on most days to help prevent a heart attack.
About 40 percent of our health outcomes are due to our behavior. Behavior is the largest contributor to health over genetics according to the New England Journal of Medicine. What we do or don't do matters!
According to the American Heart Association, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2003 to 2013, the death rate from coronary heart disease fell about 38 percent. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states that this decline has been spurred by better control of cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced smoking rates, improved medical treatments and faster care delivered by hospitals and providers. We're doing some things right!
So, in conclusion, you can change your life literally one step at a time. Go buy yourself a pair of walking shoes, name them, become friends with them and let them change your life! Yours truly, Cinderella.
Corley Roberts, ACSM EP-C, MHA, CPHQ, is an Exercise Physiologist, published author, public speaker, health care professional and founder and CEO of MyFitScript. MyFitScript has been featured on Medscape Inc., CBS Healthwatch, Business and Health Magazine and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Visit www.myfitscript.com for exercise education programs, or contact Corley at firstname.lastname@example.org.