AUSTIN — Medical conditions can serve as motivation for people to begin living healthier lives. It certainly has been motivation for one Central Texas man.
Ike Herrick, 77, has now walked around the world.
It’s not every day someone gets applause for finishing a session on the treadmill. However, when the session puts a cap on 21,477 miles over 27 years, that’s worth a celebration.
Back in 1987, Herrick was just 50 years old when he had a heart attack.
“Being 50 years old, I thought I was bullet-proof,” Herrick recalled.
He was taken to Houston’s Methodist Hospital where he met cardiologist George Rodgers, who was just beginning his fellowship.
“He told me he had the ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Rodgers recalled. “He said, ‘I’m too young to have a heart attack. I don’t want it to all end here.’”
Herrick drastically changed his diet and began an exercise regime that included walking every day.
In the early 1990s, Rodgers moved to Austin to start his practice with the Seton Heart Institute about the same time Herrick and his wife moved to an Austin suburb.
That's when Herrick got an idea.
“I got to 18,000 miles, and I thought, 'I wonder what the distance is around the world?'” Herrick said.
He calculated from Austin’s 30 degree latitude and realized he was 3,477 miles away from the equivalent of walking around the globe.
“I said, 'That’s an achievable goal if I can live to the age of 77,'” he said. “My achievable goal was three miles a day, 15 miles a week or 700 miles a year.”
Rodgers said Herrick's vigorous three miles each day benefited his health.
“By exercising like he has been doing, he has really reduced [his risk] of dying from another heart attack by 25 percent, so he had really changed his odds entirely,” said Rodgers.
Herrick lost his father to a heart attack at age 51. His brother and sister have both undergone bypass surgery.
Herrick says it took two treadmills and about 20 pairs of sneakers for him to complete his goal.