Benjamin Rosin, MD, puts on his running shoes to help maintain a healthy heart, and he also goes to work to help others do the same. Rosin is the medical director of cardiology at Torrance Memorial, and he is a seasoned marathon runner who competed in more than 60 marathons since the 1970s when he first started distance running.
PULSE: Which came first: the cardiologist or the man who loves cardiovascular exercise?
Dr. Benjamin Rosin (BR): I played football and rugby in college, so I was really into athletics ever since I was a kid. Then when I came here (Torrance Memorial) to cardiology, I decided to give a lecture to the community one night about the value of running. I brought in a couple marathon runners to speak and run on a treadmill during the lecture. When we arrived, the runners said, "Well, why don't you run on the treadmill first?" So I ran on the treadmill for five minutes, and I could hardly breathe. And then these guys got on and ran three times as fast for 30 minutes, talking the whole time. This really struck me with the value of long-distance running. So I joined the marathon club that they were in.
PULSE: What were your favorite experiences in your marathon running career?
BR: I ran lots of marathons, and they were all fantastic. That was a fun time in my life. Locally, I ran the Catalina marathon about 13 times, and I ran the Palos Verdes marathon 23 years in a row. Both the New York and Boston marathons were really enjoyable. I also ran the London marathon and the Rome marathon. My wife, Cindy, and I ran Avenue of the Giants together among the redwoods in Northern California.
PULSE: What does your running routine consist of today?
BR: I stopped running marathons a few years ago, but I still run a few miles every morning during the week and five to 10 miles a day on the weekend. I also enjoy hiking, and I lift weights.
PULSE: How do you help cardiac patients improve their heart health?
BR: I used the think that marathon running was everything, but now I recognize that it's just about being fit. Being fit is really valuable. We have a cardiac rehab program at Torrance Memorial that includes a medically supervised program of exercise therapy, risk factor intervention, education and emotional support. We previously had everyone in the rehab program running 5k/10k races, and we had patients-who previously had heart surgeries or heart attacks-who ran in the Palos Verdes marathon every year. This aggressive program has diminished in recent years, but we really strive for everyone to be fit with regular exercise, and we now recognize the importance of isometric or weight lifting to be fit.
PULSE: What do you know from being a cardiologist that helps you be a better runner?
BR: I have seen the value of running in all of my patients. Running decreases their cardiac risk factors, it helps them stop smoking, and they are so much more fit. There have been numerous studies done that show being fit helps reduces cardiovascular events.
PULSE: What is your advice to people who have not had heart problems but might be on their way and want to make a change?
BR: They should get out and start walking or doing whatever kind of exercise they can do to stay fit or to get more fit-the more, the better. Ideally you should exercise at least 30 minutes daily, with high intensity some of the time. The higher intensity improves the blood vessel response to exercise and lowers the risk of heart disease. Weight lifting is also really important, particularly for weight loss. Lean body mass (muscle) burns 75% of the calories we burn every day. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.