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British Heart Foundation
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Pilates just a quick question

Hi all. Just a quick question. I am starting Pilates (it seems like a good idea to add to my gym work and walking). I went first time last week (yes I ached and No I am nowhere near as flexible as I thought!!). Much of the exercises are based around the core muscles and last year in rehab they said not to do sit ups/crunches. I think it was because my heart attack was relatively recently. So the question is can I do these exercises (not full sit-ups rather raising head slightly whilst pulling in flabby abdomen!). As I’m writing it I appreciate how daft it sounds but I wanted to check as am still behaving like a scaredy-cat sometimes! Or am I being overly cautious?

Thanks in anticipation

Cheers Zena x

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Hi Zena - in Australia we have Exercise Physiologists (EP) who advise on this sort of thing - I use one when changing my program even though I am a qualified personal trainer. There are many exercises (especially lifting weights) that to be properly performed require the core to be tightened by holding your breath - "The act of holding your breath during weight lifting is referred to as the Valsalva Maneuver. While this may not sound like a serious issue, it can be. Holding your breath during weight training causes a rapid and dramatic increase in blood pressure". This is obviously a risk for we heart patients and could occur when doing sit ups etc. Couple of things to note - reducing waist size is more diet and cardiovascular exercise (brisk walking etc) to reduce weight, sit ups don't do it. For me, core exercises are about being strong enough for every day life, lifting my grandsons etc. A qualified exercise professional can show you alternatives to sit ups such as the plank (which can be done on knees then progress to toes etc) and might be more suited to your condition. I'd recommend finding someone equivalent to an EP, a medically trained exercise specialist, and get them to assess you and recommend appropriate exercises your your needs and goals. Cheers Al

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Hi Al. Accidentally replied to myself as opposed to you! See below thanks for your response. Cheers. Zena

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Hi Al. Thanks for this. It’s very helpful. Not doing it to lose weight. I’ve already lost 35kgs so don’t particularly want to lose more!. Just wanted to increase my strength and flexibility. I am so not bendy! Really helpful about the holding of breath. I vaguely remember that from rehab but had forgotten(age related!). I shall review with the instructor and just do the stretches slowly. Thanks. As an aside it’s been raining here lots! (Phew relief!) zena

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35 kg is impressive. I was at over 126 kg at the time of my HA. In late June. Now about 116 kg. I seem to have stabilized the past two weeks at this level.

Now I am thinking to start applying some of the “forks over knives” program and “China study” plant based diet. Would be interested to hear how you did so well.

Now been back at work a couple of weeks away from home again so struggling with foreign nutrition labeling.

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Hi jobe. Yes I follow a strict vegan diet as per Caldwell Esselstyn and it works! Weight was lost in about 40 weeks. Amazing what a heart attack does for your motivation! Keep going with the weight loss it helps no end with feeling better although I don’t recognise myself when I catch sight of myself in the meantime mirror! The forks over knives is a good option. I shall try Pilates as another option for flexibility!! Take care and keep up the good work. Zena

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Not sure if you are aware of Dr Dean Ornish - his reversing heart disease book is great and has some awesome recipes.

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Yep. Bought the book. Although I am not sure about the ability to reverse! It would be nice. The books still to be digested and I think some thought regarding cholesterol has changed since it was first published. I need to apply the diet modification and the mental coping strategies to reduce things moving from mildly annoying to bloody annoying in micro seconds. So the whole person concept both mental and physical is something I am aiming for. I have done much reading in the last eight weeks and whilst knowledge is good to have. Applying it is not always easy. Having said that having arrived by ambulance to an emergency PCI is very motivating. The downside is so much information can be either too optimistic or downright depressing. Still developing the filter regarding this. Regards. Mike

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I actually skipped over the mental chapters the first time I read it, being an engineer I just didn't believe in it! I still have trouble relaxing but yoga used to help me a lot. I can't do it now because of some other conditions I've developed but have rainstorm sounds on my iPhone that I use to relax when going to bed. Yes, ambulance trips do focus the mind.

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Thanks Mike. Likewise not sure the reversible aspect is there yet but prevention of further worsening is what I am aiming for. Yes the balance of physiological psychological and emotional health and well-being is a fine one. As is the filtering of Information that you mention which can be overwhelming but I prefer to know everything and make a judgment call. if we stay strong persevere and stay positive then we can continue to enjoy ourselves. Take care and thanks for taking the time to reply. Zena x

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35 kegs as we call them in Oz (as in kegs of beer) is amazing - well done. I did yoga for about 5 years after my first surgery - found it really helped my flexibility and its great for relaxing the mind. We all need to find what works for us. Keep up the good work!

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Hi Zena... it's great to hear how well you are doing and getting back to exercise regimes. I loved Pilates and I so want to get back to it. It helped me mentally to relax as well as physically helps with posture and yes that core too!.

I was told not to attempt to go back until after I had finished my rehab, so once I have 're dine my rehab and got to 10,000 steps a day... then I will ask again about Pilates. They were not telling me I couldn't do it... just needed to build up to it... so sounds like you are at that point... although you could always call your rehab team for reassurance/advice. I think there will be some exercises I will not do when I go back to it ... and will be led by my body too.... but great if you can start to do Pilates.. . It's my ying yang place 😁😁 x

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Thanks for this it’s really helpful. Yes feeling much better. Allergies subsided increased exercise and trying to vary it. Yes will check with team. I will listen to my body and be gentle to begin with. Yes that’s what I want and need a Ying and Yang place. Hope you’re recovering well. Take care. Zena x

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Hi Zena, I did pilates for about 5 years before my bypass. Can the instructor not tell you if there are certain elements of it that you shouldn't be doing? Great that you are making so much progress and getting out there! xxx

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Thanks for replying. I did ask her but she said she would prefer if I checked it out with Doc. I really cannot go to the doc again with something else!! I maybe will ask the team at the stage 4 rehab gym that I attend. Yes I wish she had just said yes you can do that or take this one easy. Maybe I should change the instructor!! Thanks. Hope all is well with you. Take care and thanks again for taking time to reply. Zena x

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Hope you get it sorted soon xx

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