Saturday, May 27, 2006

Exercise for Kids with Heart Defects

This just goes to highlight the fact that exercise is good for everyone. As a triple heart attack survivor I can attest that exercise is important to everyone as this article from Ivanhoe illustrates.

Have a great safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Exercise for Kids with Heart Defects

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Running, jumping, dancing -- all things kids love to do. But when you are a child with a heart defect, you're often sidelined. Now for the first time, new research encourages these kids to be active.

Like most 12 year olds, Jamie Rich enjoys playing video games. But until recently, this has been about as active as he gets. At 3 days old, doctors discovered holes in Jamie's heart.

"I questions about whether or not he would survive," says Tamara, Jamie's mother.

Jamie has lived through five surgeries and is now proving a common belief wrong.

"People hear that a child's had a heart problem, and they just assume that you have to take it easy," Jonathan Rhodes, M.D., a cardiologist at Children's Hospital Boston, tells Ivanhoe.

A 12-week pilot study shows that's not the case. Researchers monitored Jamie's and 15 other kids' hearts during aerobic activity. All but one showed significant improvement in heart function -- as much as 20 percent.

Dr. Rhodes says, "Jamie was one of our success stories. He had low exercise capacity, but he worked hard and he had a substantial improvement."

During the study, the kids exercised twice a week for an hour, combining stretching, aerobics and light-weight training with activities like dance, calisthenics, kickboxing, jump rope and relay races.

Jamie's parents say he's a different boy.

"It's a much stronger confidence," Tamara says. "Almost like a quiet confidence that he now knows what his body is capable of." Jamie's father, David, says, "It's great just to see him more active and less fearful."

"I think I am happier now that I have gone through it because I feel more like relaxed," Jamie says. And, he feels like he can just be a kid.

A follow-up exercise test showed the cardiac benefits were still there seven months after the study ended. Researchers say more studies need to be done and recommend consulting your doctor before making any changes.

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