By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist
It was at the end of an exasperating day.
My previous patient decided to stop his blood pressure medication as he heard that taking any drugs for blood pressure would cause dementia.
It took ten minutes of careful explaining, diagrams, and patience to make him aware that his persistent severely elevated blood pressure could cause a stroke and dementia, NOT the medication.
After wiping my sweaty brow, I entered the room to see my last patient of the day.
She was a new patient.
As I went through a detailed review of systems with this lovely lady, and enquired about her exercise, she answered, “I’m a bell -ringer.”
“Indeed, I am,” she proudly continued.
“And I also get lower extremity exercise by walking the six blocks to the church for practice three days a week.”
As she was my final office visit for the day, we chatted after her visit and I learned a great deal about bell-ringing.
I had envisioned bell-ringers as standing for long periods of time and yanking on strong ropes in some specialized sequence.
The only other thing that I knew about bell ringing was that it was loud…very loud.
I often discussed ways to bring more physical activity into the lives of my patients….but bell -ringing? Never thought of it.
My patient told me that even though some bells can weigh as much as 4500 kilograms, most of the bells weigh much less.
“It’s really more about learning technique than actual strength,” she said.
Since she became a bell-ringer, she found that her balance had improved.
She informed me that in the UK, the Churches Conservation Trust and YMCAfit did some research as to the effects of bell –ringing on physical fitness and they found improvement on many levels.
I was impressed.
And so, that evening I went to dear old Google and found that indeed, there was research done by the group she had mentioned and it was found that bell -ringing, “had a range of benefits, from improved agility and reaction time to muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness”
So, bell -ringing was not just a bunch of people pulling on ropes to activate bells.
It could tone the calves biceps, quads glutes, abdominal muscles and help with agility balance, coordination and endurance.
And that was before you even thought about walking all those steps up into the belfry.
When my patient was leaving, I commented that I had never met a campanologist before.
She smiled as she corrected me, explaining that the term was often misused to refer to bell-ringers…campanologists study the construction and tuning of the bells. Bell-ringers are people who ring the bells using ropes.
Bell-ringers….I salute you!
Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon
Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.