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After WGN’s favorite triathlete Erin Ivory was sidelined from the event after suffering from heart failure, Mike Lowe picked up the baton.  He’s running the race in her honor and raising money to fight heart disease.

A triathlon is not only a physical challenge, but also a mental test also. 

To complete the grueling back-to-back-to-back swimming, biking and running courses, you’ve got to have heart, so Lowe is focusing on strength conditioning as part of the program.  

Pumping iron, helps get your heart pumping, too. 

The American Heart Association recommends that we exercise for at least 150 minutes each week and mix in at least two days of resistance or weight training. 

At Strive Village in Wilmette, coach Cam Paulson, who is familiar to WGN viewers for his charitable works has developed a high-intensity weightlifting program that mixes cardio and “active rest”  

He says strength training can help improve both explosive power and endurance ability.  

Execrise is one of the keys to heart health. 

But as important as the fitness is, food may be even more critical to our cardiovascular systems.  

Doctor John Erwin is one of the nation’s leading cardiologists and the Department of Internal Medicine for NorthShore University Health System. 

 “As many advancements as we’ve had in cardiovascular care, really the key to it is great nutrition and exercise, food and exercise are medicines,” he said.

Erwin said the biggest heart health mistakes people make is in the kitchen.

“What is good nutrition? There is just so much information out there right now that people can really get off course in terms of what is going to be the best approach to diet,” he said. “We aren’t teaching that well in our schools. We aren’t even teaching that well in our medical schools, to be honest with you.”

Weight loss is its own industry. But fad diets rarely work in the long-term and seldom make us healthier.  Diets that call for us to cut carbs and boost fats cold lead to low blood pressure or liquid diets like juice cleanses may have too much sugar and not enough fiber. Some don’t alllow fruit or certain vegetables. It’s all confusing, so Erwin says this is what he recommends:  

Most of our foods should be plant based. I think the Mediterranean diet has us eat red meat two to three times a month – most Americans eat a lot more red meat than that.

If you’d like to help fight heart disease by contributing to the WGN fundraiser for the AHA, go to or text ‘WGN’ to 71777.

The Chicago triathlon on August 29.