Practicing what he preaches
Dr. Kier Huehnergarth runs to improve heart health.
April 30, 2020
Cardiologist Kier Huehnergarth, MD, FACC, spends his days treating and preventing heart disease. He also practices what he preaches. In his free time, he competes in marathons, including the Backcountry Rise 50K at Mt. St. Helens National Park in September 2019.
It was Huehnergarth's first ultramarathon. He wanted to test his physical endurance and race with a friend. "The race was majestic and it was great enjoying the natural beauty of Mt. St. Helens National Park," he says.
The event included big climbs and deep descents. It also offered stunning views of the Cascade Volcanoes, high mountain lakes, rushing creeks and abundant wildlife.
Training took a lot of commitment, and Huehnergarth was more than up to the task. He typically runs up to 20 miles a day, five to six days a week. Also, he runs early in the morning to accommodate his work schedule and need for family time.
He trained at trails around the Snoqualmie Pass area. "I'd run up and down Mt. Si, Mailbox Peak and Tiger Mountain," Huehnergarth says.
One of the things he loves about racing events is that many people in the cardiology and endurance communities take part. They also spread the word about preventing heart disease.
"I talk to so many people who run to improve their health, it's really inspiring," says Huehnergarth. "Even the top athletes at these races are concerned about their heart health. It’s a great place to spread awareness."
Marathons have also helped Huehnergarth help his patients, who ask about the photos of him racing. "It helps me connect with patients who have serious heart conditions," he says. "I think it encourages them to find their own ways to exercise."
Huehnergarth’s tips for a healthy lifestyle include creating a routine, then making time to do it. “It doesn't matter if it's a run, walk or hike or another form of physical activity,” he says. “Just getting into an activity and working to improve on it is vital."
He also says that listening to music, audiobooks and podcasts while running is a nice distraction. For patients healthy enough to take part in organized exercise events, he suggests marking the event on a calendar, then preparing for it.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.