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Strength of Heart

My father has three stents in his chest, which help keep the arteries to his heart open. He has been hospitalized for cardiac issues several times during the past 10 years, and the last time was the scariest. Since then, Dad has maintained a consistent rehab/workout routine at his local YMCA, and I gave him my old iPod to help him enjoy exercising even more - and to replace those ugly AM/FM radio headphones he used to wear, the ones with the antenna sticking up.

Even though I'm proud of his progress, I'm not sure he's ready for next month's American College of Sports Medicine World Heart Games just yet. So while Dad won't be competing, I'm sure plenty of other cardiac rehab patients are ready for something like this. The Olympics-style competition created specifically for them is slated for May 14-15 at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. Among the several challenging, yet safe and monitored events: basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, golf, bowling, a softball throw, a soccer shoot and specific cardiovascular exercises. But time is running out to register and have a physician fill out the required release form.

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Apparently, a variation on the World Heart Games has been around since 1990, when the Georgia Association of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation began sponsoring the Heart of Gold Games. That concept led to the creation of the International Heart & Lung Games, which were held in 2003 and 2006. Now comes the latest incarnation, sponsored by fitness equipment manufacturer State Games? Some would-be participants may not be able to travel to Georgia, but closer destinations might hold great appeal.

"Cardiac patients often see themselves in a diminished light, with concerns about how cardiac or pulmonary problems likely will permanently limit physical aspects of their lives and lead to more life-threatening events," says F. Stuart Sanders, chair of the World Heart Games' organizing committee. "We have seen these games transform patients' outlooks, generating excitement and confidence about how much they might achieve."

I'm gonna tell my dad.

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