When you have heart disease, breaking old habits and learning new ones can be stressful. But, the support of family and friends, as well as healthcare providers, can make a big difference. Medical professionals at the Avera Heart Hospital are doing just that, helping patients strengthen their most important muscle, their heart.
Right now, Bob Denny is feeling the burn. But at first glance you would never guess he used to hate working up a sweat.
"I didn't work out regularly, I did some walking and what have you but didn't think anything about it." Said Denny.
That was until two Decembers ago.
"All of a sudden I got up one Saturday morning and was going out to shovel snow and never got to it." Said Denny.
A heart attack put Bob in the hospital and after he was released, he quickly found himself over here, in Cardiac Rehab.
"It's a program designed to help modify a heart patient's risk factors for further heart problems and we do both exercise and education to do that." Said cardiac rehab nurse Colleen Sprecher.
"They start you out with baby steps, the first time here all you do is walk the hall for six minutes and that's the start. That was a chore and from there they get your baseline of what you can do and they start you off and get you building up your body and your heart from then on." Said Denny.
After a heart attack or other heart related problem, patients tend to be a little gun-shy when it comes to getting back on the treadmill. That's where having medical personnel watching closely to instruct and encourage helps patients like bob safely push themselves and their tickers a little harder.
"Mentally and physically it is very beneficial as far as getting them back on their feet and comfortable and being able to do this at home and modify those risk factors for further her problems in the future." Said Sprecher.
A typical stint in cardiac rehab is just a few months until patients are ready to fly solo, but Bob isn't typical, and he still hasn't left the nest.
"When I got past that I figured it did so good for me I figured I was going to stay I didn't want to go through the pain again." Said Denny.
"Other patients have completed the phase 2 program and they do it to continue on their exercise to have that accountability and familiar faces here to do that and keep them motivated." Said Sprecher.
Motivation is key to making exercise habits become behaviors. For those who have gone through the pain of a heart attack, learning and using these exercises could be what keeps them from ending up back in a hospital bed.
"What you getting out of this is that you're keeping your heart in shape and that's what every piece of equipment up here is geared to do is to make your heart work and do its function." Said Denny.
It's hard work, but like Bob's shirt says, he's been given another chance at life and a little sweat just means his heart and his body are only getting stronger.
Cardiac rehab includes exercise, education, and counseling to encourage a healthier lifestyle. This program is not exclusive to Sioux Falls and is offered at Avera hospitals across the region. For more information about cardiac rehab just call 877-at-avera