A Little Goes A Long Way: Activity & Heart Health

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Dr. Mutharsan (L) and Eric LaPratt (R) participate in Heart & Sole

Dr. Kannan Mutharsan is a cardiologist who specializing in sports. He often helps athletes optimize their health while competing at the highest levels. But the message he spends much of his time trying to convey is for the rest of us. And it might surprise you.

“A little bit of physical activity goes a really long way—even if it’s just walking. Try a brisk walk, mowing your lawn, or vacuuming the house,”  he says.

He is pretty persistent on this point, saying, “The benefit that someone derives from [activity] is as strong as any benefit from any one heart drug that we have. So if this was something that could be patented, if exercise was something that someone could make billions of dollars off of, the drug companies would be beating down doors in order to get their hands on it.”

Dr. Mutharsan isn’t just talking the talk. He’s walking the walk by normalizing activity among his colleagues through the creation of a running and walking group called Heart & Sole. The idea behind this group was to empower a community of professionals like Northwestern Medicine, already devoted to providing health to patients, to engage in heart healthy activity themselves.

Eric LaPratt co-founded the group. And while he’s not a doctor, he’s seen the importance of heart health firsthand. His father’s battle with heart disease was something that profoundly impacted him, “It required him to have a heart valve replaced and actually as a complication of that, he ended up becoming a paraplegic, and that pretty much shook the life of my family; just took it over and turned it right on its head. ”

Eric saw his doctor, who recognized his genetic risk factors and high cholesterol . Eric was already a runner, but continued pursuing physical activity along with other critical lifestyle changes.

He says, “It’s inspiring to see that big group of people show up. The reason we started Heart & Sole is to make physical activity normal.”

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