By Denise Williams | News & Views
While our previous patient perspective featured a real-life exercise buff who transferred what he learned in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) to a successful at-home workout regimen, the next feature in this series introduces you to a CR patient who chose a different route. Retired septuagenarian Grant Snyder opted for a Phase III maintenance program, and it made a believer out of him! He has diligently attended for the last 29 years, demonstrating what has become a lifelong commitment to his health.
Before sustaining a heart attack in 1992, Snyder admits he wasn’t following a particularly healthy lifestyle and certainly wasn’t getting enough exercise. At age 42, his hands were full with a busy career at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA, and three young children waiting for him at home.
His eyes opened to the importance of exercising after undergoing an angioplasty in 1992. However, as someone who hadn’t made time for fitness before then, he welcomed the opportunity to participate in Phase III. “What I found was that it really was very helpful for me to have that time on my calendar,” Snyder explains. “I suspect that if I hadn’t scheduled it – if it hadn’t become part of my routine – then it would’ve been much more difficult” to adhere.
When COVID-19 turned the world on its ear – and temporarily shuttered many CR practices and other businesses – Snyder remembers feeling profoundly disappointed that he no longer had that regularly scheduled activity. But by that time, exercise was an ingrained part of his life; and he mustered the tenacity to keep moving even without the organized structure of CR. Still, it was no question that he would return to the facility as soon as it was safe to do so.
Snyder put lots of miles on his walking shoes to help fill the CR chasm during COVID, but the numerous activity choices at CR was just one reason he couldn’t wait to resume his ‘regularly scheduled program!’ While independent workouts are fine – everyone has their preference, he acknowledges – they lack the monitoring aspect that he personally values. “It’s nice to have the support of people who work in the cardiac rehabilitation maintenance program,” Snyder says. “They’re there to answer questions. You’re also able to check to make sure you’re healthy, in general. The staff is looking at your blood pressure, seeing what’s happening in terms of your pulse rate and your oxygen rate. It’s helpful.”
Beyond having a variety of options for getting his heart rate up – Snyder favors Nu-Step, but recognizes that he works hardest on the elliptical – and having knowledgeable professionals on hand for guidance, Snyder is hooked on what he has found year after year to be a positive experience on multiple levels.
The physical benefits speak for themselves, but Snyder is pleased with how he feels all around. Having switched his CR appointments more than a decade ago from late lunch sessions to early-morning workouts three times a week, he finds that it sets the tone for his whole day. “I always feel better and more energetic after I’ve exercised,” he says. “I’m sluggish at the start and by the time I’m done, I’m much more energetic and ready to take on whatever it is I need to do for that particular day. I believe exercise is good for your mental well-being as well.”
Meanwhile, he continues, there’s the emotional lift that comes from the support CR provides. “You build up your self-esteem, you get more confidence in yourself – both physically and mentally – in being able to do things,” Snyder adds, expressing how critical those feelings are for the aging population, in particular. Rehab pros are there to help new participants break the ice and, in all of his 29 years of attending, he’s never experienced or witnessed anyone behaving in a judgmental manner.
Not least of all, Snyder alludes to the social appeal of CR maintenance, which regularly convenes the same group of people, who share like circumstances. Friendships develop, and outside get-togethers are not uncommon. While other responsibilities previously limited those kinds of gatherings for him, Snyder – who retired from DCCC after 47 years last summer – is looking forward to more social outings with his peers after the COVID-19 pandemic finally fizzles out.
The public health crisis is one of only two reasons – the other is triple bypass surgery, in 2011 – that sidelined Snyder from CR over the last 29 years. Make no mistake, he assures, he’s in Phase III for the long haul. Bring on Year 30!