Jackie McKool

A Holistic Approach to Exercise & Cardiovascular Disease

A Holistic Approach

This is the 3rd in a series of 9 blogs stemming from a recent Fox News article 1 about the rise in Cardiovascular Disease, and the driving forces behind it according to the American Heart Association (AHA). We will be taking a look at the contrasting wholistic approach to cardiovascular disease – prevention and restoration using natural approaches.

To review, the AHA states that there are 3 primary driving factors that contribute heavily to cardiovascular disease: hypertension, diabetes, and obesity – of which is the driving factor of the other two. Drilling down towards the root cause, which is the foundational approach to wholistic health, and the major difference between wholistic and conventional medicine; we dug deeper into obesity, since it was determined by conventional medicine to be the driver of cardiovascular disease. In this same article by Fox News, Renato Apolito, M.D., the medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center stated:

“Obesity is very commonly associated as a driver of hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea and hypertriglyceridemia,” he said. “Some of the greater causes of obesity are lack of exercise and a heavy reliance on processed and fast food,” he noted.

“I suspect that as our standard of living goes up, our reliance on processed and pre-prepared food — in addition to lack of exercise and lack of sleep from our hectic work lives — will drive up obesity as the common denominator leading to all the other risk factors mentioned,” Apolito predicted.

“All of those factors put together would lead to an increase in coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke.”

Last week we addressed the reliance on the food-like substances we consume, in particular: packaged, processed and fast foods as one of the main factors driving up the obesity rate, which in turn is driving up the other factors causing the rise in cardiovascular disease – hypertension and diabetes. This week we will talk about the second factor – lack of exercise, so put on your running shoes and get ready to chase after some hard truths!

Lack of Exercise Leads to Obesity


How does this work? Simply put, exercise boosts the metabolism. Our thyroid is one of the primary organs of the body that regulates this. When the thyroid is functioning properly (and a lot of the time it is not), along with sufficient exercise and a healthy diet, we should be able to maintain or achieve a healthy weight. But exercise alone is not sufficient to sustain long term weight loss.To think that we can eat whatever we like because we will just “burn it off” is deception at its best – our bodies don’t work that way! That’s also why simply limiting calories, regardless of where those calories are coming from, is not enough either.

Proper exercise influences other areas of our health besides just burning calories. Exercise is a great stress reducer, and helps with our overall mental health. Even conventional medicine will say that exercise is a better anti-depressant than a medication is.

When our bodies are chronically stressed – whether it is mental/emotional stresses, physical stresses (and yes, over-exercise is a physical stress example), or chemical stresses as in the foods we eat (see last week’s blog “Cardiovascular Disease – the Reliance on Packaged & Processed Foods”) it creates a cascade effect that inhibits the body from losing or maintaining a healthy weight.

Lack of Exercise Leads to Cardiovascular Disease


When the body is slow and sluggish everything slows down, including our metabolism. Also, did you know that our lymphatic system is like the sewage system in our house? It too slows down with a slow metabolism and lack of exercise. Simply put, the lymphatic system runs alongside of our blood vessels. Our blood vessels dump their waste and toxins they have accumulated along the “highway” of our body into the lymph vessels. The lymph vessels then carry the waste to the liver, where the liver processes this waste and distributes it to the various organs of elimination – kidneys, skin, lungs and colon specifically – to be eliminated accordingly. But… the lymph system has to rely on the muscles in the body to move that waste along. And… if we are not moving the body regularly, and primarily through exercise, that waste slows down too, it gets built up and backed up, causing inflammation in the body – including in the blood vessels and ultimately our heart vessels. When this occurs consistently, and chronically, over a long enough period of time, cardiovascular disease starts occurring. This diseased process causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation opens the doors to an even slower metabolism, which opens the doors to an increase in obesity, which opens the doors to increased cardiovascular disease. And the vicious cycle continues.

What’s important to understand here is that conventional medicine typically addresses an organ or system of the body that is diseased, in a silo all on its own. For example, if there is high blood pressure, they will give you a prescription to lower that number. Or if your Hemoglobin A1C is high (a primary indicator for diabetes) they will give you a prescription for that. Or if you are over-weight, they will tell you to lose weight and maybe give you the dieticians recommendations to lose weight, which typically tells you to eliminate some of the good foods, and allow the foods that cause excess weight and even diabetes (processed carbs and sugars in particular). But the body doesn’t work in a silo. It works wholistically, all parts and systems synergistically together.

To book Dr. Jackie for speaking engagements go to:

The Holistic Approach to Exercise


I’m going to take a chance here and first share the “good news” with those of you who despise exercising—but only if you promise me you will continue to read beyond what I’m getting ready to say and grab hold of the “really vital news.” Ready? Over-exercising can be a physical stress to the body. There, I said it—but don’t use this as an excuse to not exercise! Remember, everything in balance. Not exercising also contributes to stress in the body, which ultimately can lead to cardio-vascular disease as we have already discussed. Now for the “really good news…”

I can tell you from personal experience the importance and value of exercise. Wintertime is admittedly harder for me to get out and jog like I enjoy doing because it’s too cold for this very thin-blooded girl! And I see it on the scale too, which proves to me that without exercise we will not see the results in our health as we would like. I also know I’m like a bear in winter—I will come out of my hibernation in springtime and start my outdoor activities again like jogging and backpacking and my metabolism will reset to a faster pace, and I see the drop in the number on the scale.

Exercise is so important for many reasons. We know it’s important for our cardio-vascular health; it strengthens the heart muscles and gets the blood pumping strong and lungs working fully.

Exercise is a GREAT stress reliever! Who doesn’t need that these days? Some days I am like the character Forrest Gump. Stress is my “fuel” and when it is topped off to the max I could just “keep on running and running…” until that fuel is emptied out and I feel relaxed again. It works wonders!

When we exercise it causes us to sweat. Did you know that, 25 percent of our body’s waste is eliminated through the skin, primarily through perspiration? Sweating is good! I think some people, women in particular, have an aversion to exercise because they either consciously, or perhaps subconsciously, don’t want or like to sweat. Twenty-three percent of our body’s waste should be eliminated through the lungs. Exercise gets the bad air out (carbon dioxide) and gets the fresh, good air in (oxygen), working the muscles of the lungs. Otherwise, those toxins stay inside the body, which is not good.

I know right about now some of you are saying “but I hate to exercise!” And I’m saying, “but read what I just said!” It is vital to your health to exercise and there are many different ways to accomplish this. Let me pause here to say that vacuuming the house or lifting things at your job is not “exercise”—it’s work! Of course, you burn calories doing these things, but to benefit your health it takes more. We really should be exercising a minimum of three times per week, for at least a consistent 20-30 minutes each time. That way you get the heart muscles pumping, the lungs expanding, and the sweat coming out.

Some Holistic Facts on Exercising


  • The fuel that powers your body is sugar/glucose.
  • Muscles store glucose in the muscle fibers.
  • Muscles can’t store much glucose so they signal the body for more fuel.
  • When the glucose supply is gone, the body starts breaking down fat molecules into fuel.
  • Fat molecules have more energy than glucose molecules.
  • The process of breaking down fat requires oxygen
  • Lack of oxygen for fat breakdown will result in lactic acid buildup.
  • Aerobic exercise also exercises the arteries and strengthens the artery walls.(make this a pull quote)
  • Strong arteries allow for less cholesterol buildup.
  • Diets high in “bad” fats, sugars, and starches plus a sedentary lifestyle = diabetes!
  • Bodies also convert glucose into fat.
  • Moderate exercise more than doubles the rate at which your lymph circulates; the faster the white blood cells circulate, the more cancer cells and viruses they can pick off and the stronger your immune system becomes!

We have so many exercise options to choose from in my town, and I have a feeling there are in yours as well. There are quite a few fitness centers around if you like traditional exercise such as cardio-vascular machines, weights, and aerobics classes. Here in western North Carolina, we also have a huge playground right in our own backyard called the mountains! I backpack and there is nothing like heading off to the mountains and breathing in the refreshing crisp air, far from the noises of life while taking in the beauty of God’s creation all around me. Talk about decompressing and enhancing your health—wow! And you know what? It’s FREE! Many towns, cities, and even more rural areas have greenways, or ”rails to trails” for their community members to enjoy and benefit from; look for one close to your area—you might be surprised what you will find. Even if you live in a city, you can go out and exercise along the streets before the workday begins or on weekends. Or “borrow” someone else’s neighborhood if yours is not inviting. When I lived in Charleston, I loved to go to the historic downtown area early in the morning, especially on weekends, and just enjoy the beauty of the city while I jogged. I’d then treat myself to a cup of cappuccino at a little sidewalk café as my reward. Your county Parks & Recreation website, the local Chamber of Commerce, and Visitor Bureau will most likely have a wealth of enjoyable opportunities for you too.

Take an Inventory to Get You Started

Ask yourself: What is exercise to you?
What might keep you from exercising—time, location, dislike, etc.?
How can you overcome these barriers?
Are you currently on a REGULAR exercise program?
How often do you exercise?
For how long?
What kind of exercise are you doing?
What might you think are the benefits of exercise to you?
Assess your answers to these questions, set an exercise goal, write down (this is key to achieving any goal) the action steps to get you to that goal, and commit (another key to succeeding at your goal) to following through with what you just wrote down.

In Summary

It’s time to get out and start power walking, join a fitness center, hike a mountain, power-walk along the streets of your town or city, power stroll along the beach if you are so fortunate to live close by one, and become ALIVE!

By exercising regularly, you are taking a huge step towards minimizing having excess weight, and even more importantly minimizing becoming a statistic that the American Heart Association says is inevitable, having cardiovascular disease. It’s only inevitable if you don’t take control of your health the holistic way.

Looking for a great beach read this summer? How about digging your toes in the sand, or swinging in the hammock with a copy of “Are You Being Deceived About Truth Wellness?”

Did you miss some of these earlier blogs? These could give you some great insight — especially as you pursue your health journey:
“A Holistic Approach to Heart Disease”
“Cardiovascular Disease – the Reliance on Packaged & Processed Foods”
“How Committed Are You to Your Wholistic Health?”
Click “Here” to be sure not to miss any informative and health saving insight by Dr. McKool

(1)To reference the Fox News article go here.

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