‘Easiest’ exercise provides many health benefits, says Marble Falls cardiologist

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Dr. Elissa Thompson smiled as she unwrapped the blood-pressure cuff from a man with slightly graying hair.“That’s what I want to see,” the Marble Falls cardiologist said. “And all it took was some walking.”

The man’s blood pressure dropped several points from a previous reading Thompson took just 45 minutes earlier. The difference, the man and about 27 other people completed their regular Heart Walk one Saturday morning.

“Exercise is the easiest and simplest way to prevent heart disease and the health problems associated with it,” Thompson said. “And walking is the easiest way to do it.”

Last fall, Thompson, a cardiologist with Austin Heart in Marble Falls, started hosting the weekly Heart Walk every Saturday at 9 a.m. from her office parking lot, 1701 Mormon Mill Road. Her goal was simple: Get people moving.

Renata Cowart, a physical therapist from Kingsland, strapped on her walking shoes and joined the weekly jaunts about six weeks ago. As a physical therapist, she wanted to set a good example for her patients and clients. Quickly, she found walking a great way to just feel better.

“After I get done, I feel great for the rest of the day,” she said. “It’s a great all-around exercise. You can go out and do it at your own pace, but the benefits are amazing.”

Though Cowart only started the regular walks six week ago, she said she’s already noticed positive benefits to her health and being.

That’s the beauty of walking and exercise, Thompson said.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States,” she said.

Exercise helps address all the health issues that lead up to heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and sedentary living.

Thompson knows one of the most difficult parts of exercising is getting started and then keeping at it.

The weekly walks serve as a form of encouragement.

“People come out here, meet other people and really form a camaraderie,” Thompson said.

The walks are open to everybody and are free.

Another way to get more information on heart health for seniors is the 2013 Elder Care Fair on April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes, 1701 Broadway St. The event features more than 50 booths with health and wellness resources.

daniel@thepicayune.com