February 2018

Stay Heart Healthy with Jazzercise

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Stay Heart Healthy with Jazzercise

Magalie “Maggie” Carey is a soon-to-be medical student who is also a Jazzercise customer in San Diego, California. Maggie’s passion is women’s heart health “because according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease and stroke cause the death of a woman every 80 seconds – but about 80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education.” Find out how this part-time-model learned that preventing heart disease is easier than treating it.
How long have you been taking Jazzercise?
            I think my first class was a few years ago, when I came home to visit during a school break.  Now, I’m completely hooked!
What brought you to Jazzercise?
            My mom actually started Jazzercise before I did.  She used to come home from class drenched in sweat and grinning from ear to ear, telling me that Jazzercise is NOTHING like what you might picture – you know, the old stereotype – and that they did a new routine to a song I had just heard on the radio.  I was intrigued, so I agreed to go with her to a class.  She was right (it’s) an intense workout that’s also tons of fun! Jazzercise is the ONLY workout I do in order to stay in great shape.
So, about your heart...
            Last year, there was a lot of concern about my heart health.  A few doctors were very worried about the electrical system of my heart, which is something that you often don’t hear about quite as much about as other major cardiovascular problems like plaque buildup or heart attacks.  There was a lot of discussion about my heart rhythm because my heart rate varied dramatically, dropping below 30 beats per minute and rising above 220 beats per minute.  Occasionally, my heart would pause during episodes of what is called “heart block”.  I had two heart surgeries in less than four months, and I now have an implantable loop recorder in my chest.  It actually records the electrical rhythms happening in my heart every second of every day and transmits that data to my cardiologist.  She is able to consistently analyze that information in order to determine if I will need intervention or if my condition is staying stable.  Despite my two heart surgeries though, I still managed to do 200 Jazzercise classes last year!
What did your doctors advise as far as your fitness regimen?
            I was very careful with exercise after surgery because I didn’t want to do too much or too little and cause any damage to my heart.  I had to take some time off after surgery to heal, but as soon as I got the “all clear” from my doctors, I was back!  For me, the most important aspect of getting back into my exercise routine was listening to my body.  It was frustrating because I found that I had to take more breaks while I was adjusting, and I really wanted to just “jump back in” and perform at the same level as I had been before surgery.  I learned that strength and stamina can come back with time and perseverance, and that consistency - and some patience with myself - was key after recovering from my procedures.
How important is fitness in keeping yourself heart healthy?
            Consistent physical activity is one of the most important things that I can do to keep myself and my heart healthy.  I like to think of exercise as one big section of my health “puzzle” that requires other pieces in order to be complete.  I strive to live a balanced life that includes a healthy and varied diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, dairy, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread and brown rice.  I make sleep a priority and practice breathing and meditation regularly in order to reduce stress.  I also choose not to drink or smoke, and I make sure to see my doctor at least once a year (or more often if needed) for a well-woman checkup.  After studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Keck School of Medicine as an undergraduate and then experiencing my own health challenges last year, I have learned that preventing disease is much easier than treating it.
Tell us your favorite part of Jazzercise.
            I absolutely love my instructors because they are always energetic and supportive!  They also pick great music – everything from Rihanna and Drake to Josh Turner, Taylor Swift, and Pitbull – which makes working out so much fun.  Our routines include everything from shimmying and hip-shaking to jabs and kicks, making the studio either feel like a nightclub or a kickboxing ring, depending on the style of the class.  It’s so much fun to be able to work out with such an enthusiastic group of people, including my mom and friends who range in age from their late teens to late 80s.
A big thank you to Maggie for sharing her heart story. To stay on top of your health, make sure to see your doctor as advised.

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