I hate to admit it but, I was the couch potato in my family. It wasn’t that I didn’t like sports, it was just that I was really, really B-A-D at sports! (I hate to be bad at anything!)
Someone had to come in last at a track meet and that was my designation. Plus, quite frankly, I simply liked music more. Given the choice of playing outdoors, bike riding, running in 100 degree heat with sweat dripping off every pore of my body and smelling worse than old gym shorts or sitting inside in the nice cool air conditioned living room playing the piano – well, duh! Music won every time!!!
As a result, I struggled with my weight. I was never exactly “fat” but I certainly was not as thin as my brothers and sister. I finally found a place where I could excel in sports when I reached high school, by joining the drill team. But prior to that, exercise wasn’t on my list of daily activities. The problem with my inactivity as a child is that I may have been inadvertently setting myself up to be at greater risk of heart disease as an adult.
In a study conducted by the Medical College of Georgia, researchers found that children who had a high body fat content and were less fit, may be at greater risk for developing heart disease later in life. The arteries of children with higher body fat were found to be “stiff” arteries as compared to children with a normal body mass index and body fat content.
Stiff arteries are one of the symptoms of atherosclerosis, a form of arteriosclerosis. In addition to being strong, arteries which are healthy are also very flexible and elastic in nature. For those with atherosclerosis, the arteries have become clogged with a buildup of fat, which causes them to lose their flexibility and become stiff. This results in reduced blood flow which may also lead to blood clots. Blood clots in turn may lead to stroke or heart attack.
Obesity is one of the risk factors for developing atherosclerosis. Just like obesity, atherosclerosis does not happen overnight. Most people are not even aware of the fat buildup in their arteries until the damage has already been done.