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Improve heart health with exercise

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His wife always called him the healthiest guy she knows. But, two years ago, Spencer Potter had a heart attack and almost died. It started on the squash court, where he played in a squash league on a regular basis. “I was in the middle of a game when I started to feel pain in my chest. When I got home, I sat on the couch with severe chest pains that wouldn’t go away. My wife immediately called 911 and by the time the paramedics got to my place, I was in cardiac arrest,” said Potter.

About a year and a half after the heart attack, the doctors told him that he needed to gain strength and improve his fitness level in order to fully recover. That’s when he was introduced to the YMCA Healthy Hearts Program.

In partnership with Barrie's Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), the YMCA Healthy Hearts program is a 12-week strengthening cardiac rehabilitation program located at the Innisfil and Barrie YMCA. The program is designed to help people regain their strength, reduce and prevent the risk of cardiac episodes and improve their health and quality of life. “I attended the hour-long program twice per week. The instructor measures your progress week to week and tailors each workout session to your capabilities. It was excellent and it made me so strong,” said Potter.

After completing the Healthy Hearts program at the Barrie Y, Spencer felt well enough to enter the national squash championship in Toronto. “I wanted to do it because coming out of the Healthy Hearts program, I felt so strong, and you never know what the future holds,” said Potter.

At the age of 70, Spencer doesn’t see himself slowing down. He’s a member of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka and works out at least three times per week. “Exercise is a big part of my life now. I am so thankful to the Healthy Hearts program for giving me the tools I needed to make a great recovery,” said Potter.

For more information about the program, please contact the YMCA Healthy Hearts Team at 705-726-6421 ext. 231 or at [email protected]ca.

Louise Picot is a communications consultant for the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka.

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