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lung disease

Race Car Driver Danica Patrick Talks Home Fitness Favorites and the Cause Close to Her Heart

Written on February 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm , by

Patrick will hit the track next weekend in Daytona. (Photo courtesy of DRIVE4COPD.com)

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.

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Combating the Silent Disease That Kills More Than Breast Cancer and Diabetes Combined

Written on October 12, 2011 at 9:32 am , by

COPD Monument

24M: The Drive4COPD Monument aims to increase awareness of the lung disease. (Photo courtesy of Drive4COPD)

A few sobering facts: About 24 million Americans may have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and half of them don’t know it. It’s the fourth leading cause of death, and the only leading cause of death that’s actually getting more common. How common, you ask? COPD is responsible for more deaths each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined.

But despite all this startling information, we don’t hear much about the lung disease that hampers one’s ability to breathe. (The ribbon for this cause is gold, if you were curious!) That’s why artist and sculptor Michael Kalish created the 24M: The DRIVE4COPD Monument that will be on tour around the country this year. It’s an art display created to inspire people to take notice of this important health issue and take control of their health.

The monument involves 24 pinwheels—in honor of the 24 million Americans who may have COPD—placed on a state-shaped base to form a map. Kalish used license plates (his artwork’s signature building block) to form the pinwheels, and the number of plates used from a particular state reflects the percentage of the state’s population struggling with COPD. The pinwheels symbolize a healthy ability to breathe—you can’t make a pinwheel spin if you can’t take a deep breath!

Some news you can use about COPD, how it impacts you and how you can take action:

  • There are two types of COPD: Chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing. Those who suffer may feel like they’re breathing through a thin straw.
  • The causes include smoking (those who do so are 10 times more likely to die of COPD than those who abstain!), genetics and air pollution.
  • Many don’t catch their COPD until they’ve lost half of their lung function or require emergency care. Symptoms are manageable with a doctor’s guidance, and the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the prognosis for the patient.
  • You can take a five questions quiz to learn if you are at risk for COPD at DRIVE4COPD.com, and discuss the results with your doctor at your next exam if you rank high on the risk scale. Score yourself today or join others by participating in the “Great American Screen Off” on November 4.