After Danica Patrick’s grandma struggled with emphysema, she knew she wanted to do more than simply focus on preventing more lung disease in her family. So for the past two years, the race car driver has worked with DRIVE4COPD to spread the word that COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the only leading cause of death that’s increasing in prevalence.
We spoke with Patrick about her health crusade, how she stays in shape and how she’s feeling leading up to the big race coming up at Daytona on February 26.
Lung health has played a large role in your life. What do you do to keep yours in top shape?
I work out a lot. I lift weights to stay strong for my job. My routine includes a lot of functional training, like squats and lunges with an upper body move, for core stabilization. Cardio is also important, and it feels good to work my lungs and breathe deep. I think of taking care of my body from the inside out, especially as I’m getting older, and eat foods because they’re healthy. And not smoking is a big factor.
It sounds like you’re quite active! Do you have any favorite ways to stay fit?
I’ve been exercising since I was 14 and will be 30 next month, so I know that I have to change it up to make it fun. I enjoy DVD workouts—Beachbody does a great job with P90X and Insanity. They’re very difficult, and I’ve found it’s fun to add jumping and shake up my routine. My goal this year is to stick with yoga more. I used to skip it during the season since it would take away from my strength training time, but I know that flexibility is important.
With the Daytona 500 less than two weeks away, what are your goals for the race?
I’m really excited, optimistic and hopeful. The track is easy to drive, so there’s an opportunity for some great success stories. I have a great team and a fast car. My goal is to not just be in the race, but to do well.
One of our readers, Margo, was curious about your driving music. Do you have any favorite songs?
“I Can’t Drive 55,” but it should be 75, not 55! I listen to everything from ’70s classic rock to Nicki Minaj. I was watching the movie Country Strong recently and thought I should listen to more country music, especially now that I’m in NASCAR.
Yahoo! recently named you as the most-searched athlete in 2011. How does that feel?
I was tired from racing through all those wires! [Laughs] It’s so cool to be a success on the track and I have great partners who back me up. It’s a fun little honor!