Exercise Does One's Heart Good

Aacc Strengthens Confidence Of Those With Cardiovascular Problems

January 31, 1991|By Jennifer Keats | Jennifer Keats,Contributing writer

People who see Arnold resident Cooper Chapman playing volleyball andswimming at Anne Arundel Community College may never realize he had a heart attack seven years ago and underwent bypass surgery in 1985.

Chapman, a Westinghouse engineer, joined the exercise class for cardiac rehabilitation, the Prescribed Active Cardiac Exercise program (PACE) at the college to build up and tone cardiovascular muscles after his surgery. "I see new guys come into the course and what they have gone through is very traumatic," he said. "But the class gives them lots of confidence and soon they are jumping up and spiking the volleyball."

When Cal Peterson was an undergraduate at Shepherd College in West Virginia three decades ago, he remembers one of his professors telling the class, "We're graduating more and more intellectual giants and physical idiots."

Peterson, director of the Wellness Program at AACC, helped start PACE in 1978. The program, which operates under American Heart Association guidelines, combines three phases of warm-up, activity and a walk/run/jog in an hour of class. For three days each week, participants, ages 15 to 74, -- all being treated for cardiovascular disorders or at high risk due to high blood pressure, obesity, smoking or diabetes -- play volleyball, swim in the indoor pool and hike on college trails.

Fifty-nine-year-old Joseph Cardamone of Arnold says he's lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack last summer.

"You learn a lot by association," said Cardamone, who joined the class shortly after he was discharged from the hospital. "Theprogram has helped because I feel much better commiting myself (to exercise) three days a week."

Cardamone also said he enjoys the camaraderie the program fosters, saying he frequently trades low-fat, low-cholesterol recipes with other students.

Although Peterson and co-teacher Margaret Choate occasionally lecture on dieting and nutrition issues, the sessions emphasize non-competitive activity. "We're trying to get these individuals conscious of where they are and wherethey should be," Peterson said. "We need to concentrate on the physical component."

"The best aspect is the feeling of psychological and physical well-being," said Peterson. "(Participants) sustain a great amount of mental shock and then their significant other wants themto become either a cardiac cripple or a triathlete.

"But the difference in physical activity and mental activity in one semester is amazing," Peterson added.

Chapman and Cardamone say many new students are nervous about exercising too strenuously. However, Peterson, who is a physician's assistant and is certified in emergency medicine, stressed that the course is safe. There are two paramedics on duty during the program.

"In 6,000 to 7,000 contact hours, there have only been three incidents requiring transportation, and these were mainly due to medication problems," said Peterson.

Cardiac exercise such as that practiced in the PACE program is an important implement in recovering from cardiac trauma. But Peterson says he prefers prevention, such as that taught in his physical evaluation course, Health 120.

"I'll get you now or I'll get you later," Peterson warns his students in the evaluation course, which is designed to pinpoint weaknesses and teach individuals to maintain and develop strength those areas. Peterson says he hopes he won't see his students from Health 120 in the PACE program.

"We need diagnostic tests for physical education, not just English and math," Peterson acknowledged. He also recommended a Adult Fitness Testing, a $45 cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and muscular strength evaluation offered at the college.

The PACE program resumes 6 to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays inFebruary with four nine-session classes, which cost $35 each, starting Feb. 11, March 4, April 1 and April 22. A 36-session class, which costs $126, runs Feb. 11 to May 10.

Information: 541-2325, 721-6449, Ext. 325.

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