Physical Activity & Fitness
"A few months after I was diagnosed, I started to walk to my mailbox every day. I thought I was really doing well. As I continued to improve slightly, the docs said I could walk as much as I could tolerate. I would walk to my mailbox and back, then around the yard a little bit. I was having dizzy spells at that time, so I was fearful of venturing farther. I thought maybe I could, but when you have a bad heart you imagine the worst. Passing out on the side of the road frightened me. I stuck close to home. When shopping, traveling or doing activities such as going to the zoo, I was confined to a wheelchair. I also had a handicapped parking permit at this time.
"At the support group meetings at my transplant center, I got to know Yvonne. She was in her late 50s, and doing quite well. I talked to her about walking and was astounded to find out she would walk two miles every day, weather permitting. She told me her story of starting slow, and working her way up. She related how we patients have to overcome both the increased physical requirements and the fear of keeling over.
"This gave me a new resolve. Every day I would walk a little farther, just a block or so each day. After a few months I took the car and measured how far I was going. I was amazed to find out I was going two miles. I was starting to get more energy. I could go grocery shopping without a break, and could go to the mall with my wife without a wheelchair. I still had to rest, but the improvement was noticeable.
"I am now at a point where I can walk a mile in 20 to 25 minutes. My wife and mother, who are healthy, can barely keep up with me. I started to ride an exercise bike indoors, and this spring I am going to try out the mountain bike, on flat trails, of course."