Phil Carville: Heart happiness |

Phil Carville: Heart happiness

By Phil Carville | Special to The Union

When normally discussing heart fitness or heart health we focus on heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure or some related malady of the circulatory system.

But there is another aspect of heart health… it’s happiness.

As we grow older, we get in touch with our mortality. We realize that there are more yesterdays than tomorrows. For some it is a time for depression, but for others it is a time for reflection… and yes, happiness.

I see that joy in people expressed in so many ways. The happiest are those who have somehow taken care of themselves physically, mentally, and socially. I see them living their lives in their 60s, 70s and 80s at the gym. I see them taking care of that wonderful machine called the body.


The traditional designation for old age has been 65 years old. This came about in 1889 when Germany’s chancellor chose 70 as the age for the world’s first retirement program. The age was later lowered to 65 and that is how we got our national retirement age.

A one-size-fits-all definition doesn’t work anymore. There are three concepts of aging.

Chronological age refers to the passage of time. It has some legal and financial usefulness, but it is not relevant for lifestyle or heart happiness.

Biological age refers to changes in the body, such as loss of muscle mass, diminished height, impairment of vision or hearing, etc. But not all people are affected equally — some are biologically old at 40 while others are biologically young at 60.

Psychological age refers to how people act and feel. I see psychologically young people at the club all the time — the 80 year old who works out, participates in activities, and plans for the future. You know the type – the young at heart.


It was once thought that biological aging was unavoidable: muscle weakness, slowed movement, loss of balance and/or memory. But research shows that many of these common aging changes result from an unhealthy lifestyle or disorders and can be prevented, treated, or reversed with diet, exercise and simply just stopping bad habits like smoking and overeating.

So, the question gets down to the concept of heart happy aging. Here is how!

Be simple: Working out is simple — it’s not rocket science. You don’t need a complex workout scheme. Exercise indoors to avoid the smoke, lift some weights, jog on a treadmill, join some exercise classes, create a year-round workout environment and you won’t fall off the exercise wagon

Be inspired: It’s your life. Inspiration is everywhere. I see folks doing things that are totally inspiring — people of all types, of all conditions, of all weights and ages: a young accident victim fighting to regain normal function, an 80-year-old woman who discarded her cane and is now dancing and laughing in a group exercise class …and the list is long. You can do so much more than you think you can — now that’s inspirational.

Be inclusive: Workout or exercise with friends, because happy heart health starts with a joyful mind. Become a member of a community engaged in life. Exercise regularly, burn some calories, take yoga or Zumba classes, chat with friends, swim some laps, take a sauna. Friends and support are the greatest motivators and the most enjoyable way to maintain fitness, lose weight and nurture a joyful heart.

I support you … you deserve a Happy Heart.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to answer your questions or respond to comments. You can reach him as

Phil Carville

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