What’s your Olympus?
Beaumont’s cardiac rehabilitation program is staffed by highly-trained nurses and physiologists who are attuned to the special needs of the cardiac patient. I say this not just because I work at Beaumont, but I was a patient there as well. The degree of medical supervision is quite unlike what one commonly finds at most local health clubs. Staying within your heart rate and perceived exertion ranges is the mantra we all learn. We’re also educated regarding potential adverse signs and symptoms – and the need to decrease exercise intensity when these occur. Our resting and exercise vital signs and heart rhythms are periodically monitored, giving us a measure of reassurance. A defibrillator and crash cart are also available for rare emergencies that may occur. Strength and balance training are emphasized in the Advanced Training program; staff taught me how to progress from moderate to vigorous exercise, sensibly and safely.
My initial goal in cardiac rehab was to prevent another cardiac “event,” and there is plenty of scientific evidence to support this notion. As I progressed, I found that I was able to do things I previously could not have done, even decades earlier. Hey, muscle is probably the only organ that one can get to regenerate. Soon, I set my sights even higher.
I decided to climb Mount Olympus in Greece.
I began training for the climb by gradually pushing the envelope until I felt I could safely do more than would be required for the feat. The first day at Mount Olympus, we climbed 3,300 feet up a beautiful gorge with the Aegean Sea in the distance. The next day we climbed another 2,000 feet along mountainsides, cliffs and plateaus, past antelope to the same refuge I stayed in 36 year earlier. After lunch and some rest, we made our final ascent, a 700 foot scramble up a 70 degree grade to the summit at 9,570 feet. What a view – mission accomplished!
I could not have realized this lifelong dream without the coaching and expertise of the wonderful caring preventive cardiology and rehabilitation staff at the Beaumont Health Center. I cannot thank them enough. I also wish to thank my exercise comrades, whose friendship and willingness to exchange good-natured ribbing made working out something to look forward to. Sensible exercise is our medicine. It is likely the single greatest intervention one can do to live longer and function better.
So… what’s your Olympus?