Taking it to heart | SierraSun.com

Taking it to heart

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra SunJeanne Sweet, 85, and Joan Smith, 74, both from Truckee, use rowing machines during a Tahoe Forest Hospital exercise class.

For almost all of his adult life, Truckee resident Bob Lamberg didn’t exercise. Two and a half years and one quadruple bypass surgery later, the 55 year old is a self-proclaimed “exercise junkie.”

“I’ve really changed my whole lifestyle [after my heart attack]. Lifestyle is the name of the game here ” eating and exercise,” 55-year-old Lamberg said while powering a recumbent step machine during an exercise class at Tahoe Forest Hospital.

Not everyone has been as fortunate as Lamberg to have a second chance at life after a heart attack. Cardiovascular disease was responsible for 38 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2002, according to the American Heart Association. For many, untimely death could have been averted through proper diet and exercise ” heart attacks are almost entirely preventable, according to the National Safety Council.

After Lamberg had his heart attack, his physician suggested he join Heart to Heart, a cardiac rehabilitation class at Tahoe Forest Hospital. Since he had never exercised regularly, Lamberg said he was intimidated by the program for months.

“It took me a long time to feel OK to be here,” he said. “Now I come three times a week.”

Heart to Heart is a medically supervised exercise and educational program led by registered nurses and exercise physiologists. It focuses on stretching, flexibility, endurance, and strength training for those recovering from cardiovascular disease or for people who just want to prevent illness.

Wendy Buchanan, an exercise physiologist with Tahoe Forest Hospital, said the most common reason people attend the classes is not so much to prevent cardiovascular disease but to improve how they feel in general.

“Living in Truckee and Tahoe we live here for the quality of life, and they want to be able to enjoy what this area has to offer,” Buchanan said over the buzz of workout equipment on Monday.

Exercise decreases all controllable risk factors for heart disease, Buchanan said. It lowers weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, and prevents stress.

“It’s an act in progress to be healthy our whole lives and we need to teach our children to be as active as they can be,” she said. “Basically, we just need to get active. It’s not just exercise classes. It’s taking the dog for a walk. It’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator.”

Truckee resident Jeanne Sweet, 85, started exercising after her husband had a serious heart attack seven years ago. Though she gardens in the summer, she wanted some sort of activity in the winter to stay fit.

She wishes she hadn’t waited until so late in life to start an exercise program, she said.

“My advice to people? Try to work out,” she said. “Don’t wait until your our age. Do it now.”

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