George had never been the type of person to exercise. He was not physically gifted, didn’t play sports, and had no interest in golf or other outdoor activities. He was a couch potato and had no problem telling people that. However, when he was hospitalized following a heart attack, he had no idea what the recovery process would require.
When he found out exercise was highly recommended, he scoffed at it.
George was not concerned with hospital readmission. In his mid-70s, George felt that he had lived a good life and if he were to pass away tomorrow, that would be okay. His outward bravado notwithstanding, George was inwardly concerned about a lot of things, especially experiencing another heart attack.
That first one caused a tremendous amount of anxiety. He couldn’t shake the sensation he felt as his chest tightened, his arm tingled and went numb, and when he had extreme difficulty catching his breath. It was fortunate that his wife was there with him and called emergency services right away, the last thing he wanted was to ever experience that again. He told his wife he would rather go in his sleep if it was going to happen soon.
Even though exercise was important, George wasn’t willing to do it.
His doctor told him how important exercise was for strengthening the heart muscles. “If you don’t exercise,” his doctor said, “your heart muscles don’t get stronger and if they don’t get stronger, the risk of another heart attack is much higher.”
The problem for George was how difficult exercise was.
He wasn’t overweight, but his muscles simply weren’t used to doing any serious activity. He assumed exercise involved going to the gym and working out, sweating hard for an hour or more every single day. When his doctor finally understood the trepidation, he explained to George that exercise for somebody his age and in his health condition could involve something as simple as walking at a brisk pace for 15 minutes.
“All you have to do,” his doctor said, “is get your heart rate elevated for at least 15 minutes every day.” If George didn’t do this, the risk of another heart attack and a readmission is going to be increased significantly. George finally started heeding that advice and exercising. When he knew he could improve his health with something as simple as a walk, it became much more appealing.