It’s Time We Talk About Mental Health – Podcast Ep. 11

It’s Time We Talk About Mental Health – Podcast Ep. 11

Welcome to a very special edition of Living Healthy.

On this episode, we speak with Dr. Neel Doshi, DO, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente Orange County, about the importance of mental health and how exercise can act as an additional form of treatment for combating mental illness. 

Dr. Doshi is double board certified in Adult Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Doshi’s comprehensive treatment approach focuses on an individual’s total health: mind, body, and spirit. He believes that by identifying and addressing underlying causes, implementing healthy lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and taking medication when necessary, he can determine the best treatment plan and work with his patients to restore their emotional and mental well-being.

If you’d like to share your personal story with us, leave it in the comments section below and use the hashtag #curestigma or send us an email at


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – It’s Time We Talk About Mental Health – Podcast Ep. 11


Begins at 0:01  

Psychiatrist Dr. Neel Doshi joins the show 

Begins at 0:43 

Does Everyone Experience Mental Illness? 


Learn More – 


The Different Categories – AMI vs. SMI 


What Separates a Mental Illness from Just Having a Bad Day? 


The Stigma with Mental Health  


What Are Some Ways You Can Reach Out and Help Others? 


NAMI Cure Stigma Campaign 


Does Mental Illness Come from Genetics? 


The Social Feedback Loop 


The Chemical Side of Things 


How Can the Body Help the Mind – Exercise and Mental Illness 




The Future of Depression and Anxiety 


Pushing Through to Get Better 


Producer Matt Joins the Show 


Have Patients Had Success with Exercise?  


The Chemical Impact of Exercise – The Legal Drug 


Actionable Advice 





Recommended Podcast Episodes 

Sleep and Weight: What’s the Connection?

Sleep and Weight: What’s the Connection?

Nighttime approaches, but the Sandman does not. You lay in bed, eyes focused on the ceiling, or perhaps your phone. You set the phone down. Close your eyes. One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four… no luck.

You’ve been feeling drained, stressed, and unhealthy – maybe your poor sleep habits are to blame.

We reached out to Babak Saedi, MD, and Director of Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles, to help us better understand the connection between sleep and weight.

This is what he shared:

Sleep plays a critical role for our physical and emotional health. Without it, we lack the energy necessary to get through the day. Sleep deprivation impacts our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness; it affects our mood and stress levels; it also increases our risk for heart disease. Plus, not getting enough sleep is linked with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and depression. While almost everyone feels sleepy in the daytime now and then, sleep debt can affect our concentration and reaction time, becoming the cause of serious problems like car crashes and work-related accidents. Poor sleep is also linked to increased pain perception and a degraded quality of life.

How much sleep is needed for optimal health?

Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep and kids – depending on their age – need between eight to eleven hours.

How does sleep affect our weight?

In order for us to achieve any health or fitness goal, we must make sleep a priority. Whether we want to maintain or lose weight, gain muscle mass, perform better or simply feel better, getting enough high-quality sleep is key to reaching our weight and fitness goals.

If you’re tired, you have less energy. Even if you can get yourself to workout, the intensity of that workout isn’t the same as when you’re well rested, and as a result, you burn less calories.

You’re more likely to eat more and consume extra calories from high fat and high sugar foods to cover the energy cost of staying awake.

Lack of sleep impacts our hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones. It also causes a spike in our cortisol levels, signaling our body to conserve energy to fuel our waking hours.

It affects our body’s ability to properly respond to insulin signals. Excess insulin increases the storage of fat in fat cells and prevents fat cells from releasing fat for energy.

Lack of sleep slows the production of growth hormone, which can make it more difficult for your body to build muscle mass.

11 Tips for Better Sleep

1. Take a hot shower 1-2 hours before bedtime.

2. Make your sleeping environment comfortable. The temperature, along with light and noise should be controlled to make the bedroom conducive to sleeping. It’s also important to choose a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow.

3. Go to bed only when sleepy. Once in bed, if you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, leave the bedroom for another room. After getting up, it’s important to remain calm, which means avoiding bright-lights or engaging in activities that will lead to more alertness (including chores or games on the computer, phone or tablet). Return to bed once you feel sleepy. Until then, stay out of the bedroom.

4. Limit bedroom activities to only sleeping and intimacy. Avoid watching television, using electronics, playing games or studying while in bed.  Also, avoid clock watching. All of these activities increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep.

5. Avoid eating or drinking right before going to bed. Eating a late dinner or snacking before going to bed can activate the digestive system and keep you awake. Eating before bedtime can also worsen acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.  Avoid drinking too much before bedtime because it can cause the need to urinate frequently throughout the night.

6. Avoid smoking, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and other stimulants. The effects of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can last several hours after use, which cuts into sleep time. Caffeine can cause difficulty falling asleep and frequent awakenings, while alcohol is known to create a non-restful night’s sleep and frequent urination.

7. Avoid daytime naps. It is important to establish and maintain a regular sleep and wake-up pattern. Napping during the day, especially after 2 p.m., makes it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. If one must take a nap during the day, it should be early, around midday, and should only last about 20 minutes.

8. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and duration. However, avoid exercising close to bedtime because it can have a stimulating effect on the body. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before it’s time to sleep.

9. Wake up the same time each day. Waking up the same time every day regardless of how much sleep you’ve had helps to regulate your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and predict your bedtime. Try to keep the same sleep and wake-up time on work/school and non-working/school days, especially if you are a shift-worker.

10. Set aside time to plan. If you find that you lay in bed thinking about tomorrow, consider setting aside a time at night to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things while trying to fall asleep. It may also be helpful to make a to-do list.

11. Reduce Stress. Aim for two hours of relaxation time before bedtime. There are a number of relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods to relax the mind and body before going to bed. You may want to take a warm bath, do some light reading, listen to white noise or relaxing audio tapes, do some deep breathing exercises or practice meditation.

Responses and tips above provided by Babak Saedi, MD, and Director of Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles. Questions provided by Mayra Suarez, Senior Media Relations Representative at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

Recommended Reading

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting – Podcast Ep. 9

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting – Podcast Ep. 9

Welcome to the ninth episode of the Living Healthy podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of Living Healthy, we speak with Master Trainer Geoff Fox and get his advice on persevering through difficult times. 

Do you have an LA Fitness member in mind that you would like to recommend for a Member Spotlight episode of our podcast? Share them with us in the comments below!

Let us know how we’re doing by tweeting us @LAFitness or send us an email at

This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting – Podcast Ep. 9



Show Begins 


Master Trainer, Geoff Fox Joins the Show 

Begins at 1:38 

Why Do We Quit? 

Begins at 1:51 

Biggest Culprit Leading People to Quit 

Begins at 2:39 


Begins at 3:26 

Learning to Move Forward 

Begins at 6:54 

Working Out with Others 

Begins at 11:07 

Changing Your Thinking  

Begins at 13:05 

Embrace the Struggle  

Begins at 16:38 

Ask a Trainer Throwback Break 

Begins at 19:39 

Actionable Advice  

Begins at 21:28 

Recommended Podcast Episodes 

Stop Doubting Yourself

Stop Doubting Yourself

Let’s start with the facts.

Statistically speaking, you have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than winning the lottery. (Almost 4 times more likely, actually).

Still, chances are you’ve tried your luck at it a time or two –

So, why not take a gamble on yourself? Whether it’s fear of failure, lack of motivation, or countless other reasons that have held you back from hitting the jackpot on your life, let’s make the conscious decision to cross that bridge together today.

Unlike the lottery, when it comes to fitness and nutrition the odds are in your favor.

I’m sure some would argue this point, but here’s why it’s true:

  1. While genetics could be against you, you are ultimately in control of your fitness and nutrition habits.
  2. While unhealthy foods are more easily available, you are ultimately in control of your fitness and nutrition habits.
  3. While time may not be on your side, you are ultimately in control of your fitness and nutrition habits.
  4. When doubt screams louder than confidence, you are ultimately in control of your fitness and nutrition habits.
  5. If the lack of health knowledge has held you back, STILL you are ultimately in control of your fitness and nutrition habits.

There could be a million reasons not to start something, but if you can find one reason to begin that’s all you need.

That small step in the right direction is your way of taking control of your life and getting one step closer to winning life’s jackpot.

If someone else could win the lottery, why can’t you? If someone else could turn their health and fitness around, why can’t you?

You can do it and if you feel like you can’t, LA Fitness will help you get there. Try us out and see what you think. And if you’re already a member who is struggling to stay on track, talk to a Pro Results® certified personal trainer for what the best option would be for you.

Taking chances can be scary, but taking a chance on yourself could be the greatest gamble you ever make.

Need a little extra motivation? Check out some of the additional articles below.

  1. The Common Misconception of Getting Fit Before Joining a Gym
  2. March to LA Fitness
  3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  4. The Happiness Factor: How Happiness Affects Health

Recommended Reading

How Disease Impacts the Body’s Ability to Exercise

How Disease Impacts the Body’s Ability to Exercise

Disease can be a hard topic to approach, but it’s definitely something worth talking about. You may find yourself asking the following questions:

  • How does disease affect the body?
  • How does exercise help benefit the body?
  • Can I exercise with this disease?

We reached out to some experts on certain diseases to help better understand how these diseases impact the body’s ability to exercise and how to become stronger despite each disease.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Most people with ALS live 2-5 years after their first signs of disease.

How does ALS affect the body?

The motor neurons die and block the communication between the brain and the muscles. As a result, the muscles shut down and atrophy. People with ALS lose the ability to talk, eat, swallow, walk, and ultimately breathe.

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease?

Studies have found that exercise can help ALS patients retain muscle strength and improve joint function. The goals are to maximize muscle function, slow down the deterioration of range of movement, and increase aerobic capacity and endurance for as long as possible. Stretching—both static and dynamic—once or twice a day can help ease muscle pain and slow the decrease in range of movement. (Source:

A Special Message from Augie’s Quest

Every dollar raised through Augie’s Quest to Cure ALS is dedicated to driving the innovative science happening at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). While we are laser focused on curing ALS, we hope our research leads to medical advancements for all neurodegenerative diseases.

All responses and photos above provided by a representative from Augie’s Quest.

Augie Nieto, Founder of Augie’s Quest


Alzheimer’s Disease

2016 Denver ALZ Walk

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal disease that attacks the brain and causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and an individual’s independence. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

2016 Denver ALZ Walk

How does Alzheimer’s affect the body?

Alzheimer’s kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan and ultimately function. As the disease advances, the brain shrinks dramatically due to cell death. Individuals lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves. Ultimately, individuals forget how to swallow or breath; Alzheimer’s is fatal.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is extremely important as it allows better access to quality medical care and support services, and provides the opportunity for people with Alzheimer’s disease to participate in decisions about their care, including providing informed consent for current and future plans. Although Alzheimer’s has no current cure, treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s. You can learn about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s at If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing these symptoms, consult with a doctor.

2016 Denver ALZ Walk

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease?

Growing evidence suggests that many factors that increase the risk of heart disease also may increase the risk of dementia. These factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends exercise as one of the ways to help keep your brain and body healthy and prevent cognitive decline in the future. Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. While there is currently no way to prevent Alzheimer’s, several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Other recommendations to keep your brain healthy as you age include eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough sleep, staying socially engaged, and challenging your brain with games and activities.

2016 Chicago ALZ Walk

A Special Message from the Alzheimer’s Association

Today, although Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed, we are making significant progress. The Alzheimer’s Association is confident that better treatments, earlier detection, and prevention strategies will be available in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we know that there are steps that you can take to improve your overall health and lower your risk of cognitive decline in the future. Visit to learn about things you can do now to potentially protect your brain in the future.

For those facing Alzheimer’s today, it’s important that they know that they are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association has resources available to help support families and individuals facing this disease, including in-person care consultations, support groups, and a 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900). Visit to learn more.

All responses and photos above provided by Dr. Heather Snyder, Senior Director, Medical & Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.


What is cancer?

Cancer is an abnormal growth in a tissue of the body caused by mutations in DNA, exposure to toxins (including alcohol and smoking and radiation), certain infections (like hepatitis B or C, HPV human papilloma virus or helicobacter pylorus in the stomach), sun exposure, and genetic factors. The abnormal tissue continues to grow and invade the organ where it started (like breast or lung or colon) and also can spread by blood or lymph channels to other organs.

How does cancer affect the body?

Cancer affects the body by reducing the function of the organ in which it started (like shortness of breath with lung cancer), and by causing symptoms like bleeding, pain, fatigue, a growing lump or mass, or a sore that does not heal.

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease?

Exercise has remarkable effects on preventing and treating cancer. Importantly, exercise can reduce your chances of having many types of cancer, including breast, uterus, colon, rectal, esophageal, liver, stomach, kidney, head and neck, lung, bladder, and prostate cancers and also leukemia and myeloma. If a person has been diagnosed with cancer, exercise has been shown to increase survival and cure rates in patients with breast, colon rectal and prostate cancer. But even if a person has a different type of cancer, exercise is helpful to improve weight, reduce fatigue, control pain, lessen anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve emotional stability. If a patient has lost strength due to the cancer or treatment with surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy, exercise is important in rehabilitation to regain a normal lifestyle.

A Special Message from Cary Presant, MD (Physician, City of Hope Medical Group)

Remain active, get all types of exercise (aerobic walking or running or cycling, and anaerobic sprinting or weight training), and commit to a healthy diet and avoidance of bad health habits. Being sedentary is a health risk and getting exercise can save your life.

All responses above provided by Cary Presant, MD, Physician, City of Hope Medical Group.

Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means your kidneys are damaged and losing their ability to keep you healthy. In the early stages, most people do not have symptoms. The disease affects 30 million people in the U.S. (15% of the adult population) and approximately 90% of those with kidney disease don’t even know they have it. (For people at the earliest stages of kidney disease, 96% don’t know.) 1 in 3 Americans is at risk for CKD. Because of increasing rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease is on the rise and is an urgent issue.

How does CKD affect the body?

As kidney disease progresses, waste can build up in your blood and make you feel sick. You may develop other problems like high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, poor nutritional health, and nerve damage. Kidney disease also increases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly and can lead to kidney failure. Once kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to stay alive.

How does exercise and proper nutrition benefit those battling this disease/susceptible to this disease?

A few of the manageable, and sometimes preventable, risk factors of CKD include diabetes and high blood pressure. To prevent these health issues, or at the very least manage them so they don’t progress into something worse, it is best to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. Proper nutrition, incorporated with a healthy lifestyle, can help give your body a better chance at functioning properly, therefore diminishing your risk for developing CKD.

A Special Message from the National Kidney Foundation

Have you ever thought about donating an organ? Organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life. Learn more about the donation process–and how to become an organ donor. Visit for more information on how you could help save a life. Listen to some awe-inspiring testimonials from living donors here.

All responses above sourced from The National Kidney Foundation, with permission from Nichell Taylor Bryant, Senior Media Relations Manager. Kidney graphic provided by the Nation Kidney Foundation, Marketing & Communications. 


What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Chronic means that the disease itself does not go away. It is always there, but, it is treatable and can be managed effectively. Obstructive means that you have trouble getting your air out of your lungs. Pulmonary means it affects the lungs.

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.

How does COPD affect the body?

As we mentioned, obstructive means you have trouble getting air out of your lungs. Why is this? With COPD the lungs have been damaged. This tends to make them stretched out and over-inflated, and lose

some of their elastic quality. We all know that a new balloon quickly goes back to its small size when you let the air out of it. But a balloon that’s been blown up many times is not as elastic as it once was, and it’s not as good at getting the air out. Lungs with COPD can be that way too, and if you can’t blow out the air you should, it’s harder to take your next breath.

So, when you are short of breath, of course, you’re going to want to sit down more and not be as active as you once were. Moving around less can make your muscles weak and your joints stiff. If it hurts to move around, you’re going to be even less active. The more sedentary you are, the less you can do, and the more frustration and anxiety you might have. Your breathing becomes more shallow (you are working very hard to huff and puff without moving much air) and this can be exhausting — and depressing.

Also, the heart and lungs work closely together to make sure enough oxygen gets around to all parts of our bodies. When the lungs are working too hard, more stress is put on the heart. So, COPD can affect not only the lungs but other body systems, your muscles, your brain… other parts of your body can begin to struggle to keep up with what they need to do.

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease?

You might think that if a person is this short of breath, there is no way they can exercise. But they can exercise, and it helps them have more endurance, strength and flexibility. For many people with COPD, exercising is a very scary thing. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a good way to start. Pulmonary Rehabilitation professionals are very good at helping people with severe shortness of breath improve their level of fitness. They can help people with mild, moderate or severe COPD be able to feel better, breathe easier and be more active. And when you can do more, you may feel less depressed and anxious. You are more likely to have a fuller, more enjoyable life. Exercising and learning how to take the best possible care of your lungs can make an enormous difference in the life of a person with COPD!

Jane Martin, Assistant Director of Education for the COPD Foundation.

A Special Message from the COPD Foundation

You are not alone! There are 30 million Americans who have COPD and help is available! You can become informed and empowered, so you can have the confidence to control your breathing and cope with the changes that often come with having COPD. Visit COPD 360social, our vibrant online community to learn from others with COPD.

For more about COPD, go to:

All responses above provided by Jane Martin, Assistant Director of Education for the COPD Foundation.


What is depression?

Depression is a serious medical illness that affects the brain and the body. People often think depression is just being sad all the time. In fact, people with depression do not necessarily feel sad – they feel numb and hopeless. Symptoms include inability to concentrate, loss of pleasure in things that used to be fun, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of appetite, feelings of intense rejection or guilt, and suicidal thoughts.

How does depression affect the body?

Depression is a full-body illness. We know that several neurotransmitter systems in our brains are impacted by depression. These neurotransmitters influence different circuits and feedback loops that control every aspect of our lives, from appetite to motivation, to mood and feeling excited or peaceful. Our gut is affected. Our hearts and our muscles. Aches and pains are magnified.

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease?

Just 15 minutes of exercise changes the electrical activity in your brain’s mood centers. Regular exercise makes your brain stronger and more resilient to stress by increasing nerve growth factors.

A Special Message from The Hope For Depression Research Foundation

Remarkable advances in neuroscience teach us not just about mental illness but about mental wellness. Positive life changes can lead to positive brain changes that enhance our emotional well-being. Regular exercise, good sleep habits, and practicing gratitude are just three simple ways to keep our brains healthy and resilient. Gratitude is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and increase the brain’s production of serotonin – an important neurotransmitter. Regardless of your life’s circumstances, the gratitude circuit in your brain can be strengthened. Make gratitude a daily part of your routine by taking a few minutes each day to write down three things you are grateful for.

All responses above provided by Louisa Benton, Executive Director for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.


What is diabetes & how does it affect the body?

As defined by the CDC,

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. (Source:

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease/susceptible to this disease?

Regular physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes. When you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it can work more efficiently. Your cells also remove glucose from the blood using a mechanism totally separate from insulin during exercise. So, exercising consistently can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C*. When you lower your A1C, you may be able to take fewer diabetes pills or less insulin.

Studies indicate that moving more throughout the day—in addition to getting the recommended 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate activity—may prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. It also is shown to improve blood glucose control, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, contribute to weight loss and improve wellbeing in people with type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise also has considerable health benefits for people with type 1 diabetes, including improved cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and insulin sensitivity.

The American Diabetes Association recommends breaking up sitting time with three or more minutes of light physical activity—such as walking, leg extensions or overhead arm stretches—every 30 minutes. This is a new recommendation as of October, 2016. Previously, we recommended movement every 90 minutes.

Read more about how food and fitness affect health, by clicking the following link:

*A1C, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a stable glycoprotein formed when glucose binds to hemoglobin A in the blood.

A Special Message from the American Diabetes Association

The good news is diabetes can be managed with the proper care of a health professional, diet and exercise. For more information on diabetes, check out the ADA’s Diabetes Forecast magazine, full of information to help better understand how to manage this disease.

Below are some suggestions for incorporating more movement during the workday.

  • Set a timer to get up every 30 minutes and stand, walk or stretch.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator at the office and in the parking garage.
  • Get up and stretch at your desk.
  • Swap out your chair for an exercise ball to engage your muscles.
  • Use part or all of your lunch break to take a walk.
  • Walk places that are within a reasonable distance instead of sitting in a car.
  • Try some chair exercises while at your desk.

All responses above sourced from The American Diabetes Association, with permission from Courtney Cochran, Senior Manager of Media Relations.

Heart Disease

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. It claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined.

Heart disease is a common term for the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries that could lead to heart attack.

Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs, it is called heart attack. About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.

How does heart disease affect the body?

After a first heart attack, most people go on to live a long, productive life. However, around 20 percent of patients age 45 and older will have another heart attack within five years of their first.

How does exercise benefit those battling this disease/susceptible to this disease?

Exercise is essential to living heart-healthy. “Our bodies were designed to be physically active, and they don’t do well with long-term exposure to sedentary living. Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” says Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Exercise at the University of South Carolina.

According to the American Heart Association’s exercise standards, “Exercise can be viewed as a preventative medical treatment, ‘like a pill’ that should be taken on an almost daily basis.”

The heart-healthy benefits of exercising for just 30 minutes a day are nearly endless. To name a few, exercise:

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Keeps your weight under control
  • Helps you quit smoking
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Helps manage stress
  • Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
  • Reduces heart disease in women by 30-40 percent
  • Reduces risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people
  • Delays chronic illness and disease associated with aging

After a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor first before starting an exercise routine. Considering your medical history, age and other factors, your doctor can help determine what activities are best for your current physical condition.

We suggest starting a walking program, which is the easiest way to begin exercising and has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise. In addition, studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

A Special Message from The American Heart Association

Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your body — and call 911 if you feel:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff are trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.

Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity. But living with heart disease does mean you need to make some changes in your life that include regular physical activity. For more information, resources and support about heart disease, visit

All responses above provided by a representative from The American Heart Association.


What constitutes a stroke?

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to, and within, the brain. It is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke is sometimes described as a brain attack, as a stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts/ruptures. When there’s a blockage, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, and many brain cells die. During a stroke emergency, “time loss is brain loss.”

There are different types of strokes:

  • Ischemic stroke – This is the most common type of stroke, caused when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to a part of the brain. About 87 percent of strokes are classified as ischemic. Cryptogenic stroke refers to an ischemic stroke where the root cause is unknown at the time of discharge.
  • TIA/transient ischemic stroke – A temporary blockage to the brain, also known as a “mini-stroke” or “warning-stroke.”
  • Hemorrhagic stroke – Occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain, compressing the surrounding brain tissue.

How does having a stroke affect the body?

The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can’t reach the region that controls a specific body function, that part of the body won’t work as it should.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability. The effects of a stroke depend primarily on the location of the obstruction and the extent of brain tissue affected.

If the stroke occurs in the brain’s right side, the left side of the body (and the left side of the face) will be affected, producing some or all the following:

  • Paralysis on the left side of the body
  • Vision problems
  • Quick, inquisitive behavioral style
  • Memory loss

If the stroke occurs in the left side of the brain, the right side of the body will be affected, producing some or all the following:

  • Paralysis on the right side of the body
  • Speech/language problems
  • Slow, cautious behavioral style
  • Memory loss

How does exercise benefit those who have suffered from a stroke?

For the first three months after a stroke, the brain is much like a child’s brain, ready to learn, ready to make new connections. This ability for our brains to adjust is known as neuroplasticity, and it plays a crucial role in recovery.

“Stroke is more than ever preventable, treatable and beatable. Through awareness, education and tools, stroke survivors can feel highly confident in taking control of their health to significantly reduce their risk of experiencing another stroke,” said Dr. Joseph Hanna, Chairman of Neurology at The MetroHealth System, Inc., in Cleveland and Spokesperson for the American Stroke Association.

Regular exercise can help stroke survivors regain skills and abilities that can help them become more independent and improve their quality of life. After a stroke, it is important to follow your doctor’s guidance before starting any fitness plan.

A Special Message from The American Stroke Association

Fortunately, 80% of strokes can be prevented! Regular exercise is a crucial component of preventing common risk factors of stroke such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Follow the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 to prevent strokes and live a longer, healthier lifestyle:

  1. Manage blood pressure
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Reduce blood sugar
  4. Get active
  5. Eat healthier
  6. Maintain weight
  7. Stop smoking

Recognizing the warning signs of a stroke and taking immediate action can make a big difference in a stroke patient’s recovery outcome. The American Stroke Association teaches the warning signs of a stroke using the acronym, F.A.S.T., to help people recognize the symptoms and know what to do.

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F – Face drooping
  • A – Arm weakness
  • S – Speech difficulty
  • T – Time to call 9-1-1

For more information and resources to prevent, beat and treat stroke, visit

All responses above provided by a representative from The American Stroke Association.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

This article contains links to websites owned and operated by third parties. If you use these links, you leave our website. These links are provided for your information and convenience only. We do not endorse any content available through these links.

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