AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ike Herrick, 77, accomplished his 27-year goal of walking around the circumference of the world on Thursday — the equivalent of 24,901.55 miles. Herrick first set his goal after suffering from a heart attack when he was 50 years old.
For years, doctors warned Herrick to change his diet and exercise routine because he was overweight, had high cholesterol, and a family history of heart disease.
“In my case, my heart attack was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me because it awakened me to the fact that something was wrong, and would eventually kill me,” said Herrick.
Since his heart attack, Herrick has made a complete lifestyle change, and now walks at least three miles a day. He walks mostly on the treadmill or on a track.
“What really struck me was when I when was in cardiac rehab, doctors really lectured us and emphasized the importance of eating right and getting enough exercise. One of the patients raised their hand and asked, ‘doctor, what if we don’t do this?'” said Herrick. “The doctor said, ‘you will die.'”
Herrick says that moment struck a cord with him. He has since taken all of his cardiologist’s advice and made serious changes to his diet immediately.
Herrick stopped eating fast food and eliminated greasy, fried foods from his diet altogether. Him and his wife started eating healthy, home-cooked meals and adding more fruits and vegetables to his diet, minimizing their intake of red meat. He says those changes saved his life.
“You don’t have to kill yourself exercising, but you gotta have cardio exercise to get your heart rate up every day,” said Herrick. “It’ll allow you to live a lot longer than you would otherwise.”
Doctor George Rodgers, a cardiologist with Seton Heart Institute, has been treating Herrick for nearly three decades. Rodgers says he saw a dramatic difference in Herrick’s health and physical body once he starting making better lifestyle choices.
“This all started when he was 50. Since then, he’s been through two cardiologists, two treadmills and about 20 pairs of walking shoes,” said Rodgers.
Doctor Rodgers advises everyone regardless of age, weight or family medical history, to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day.
“Maybe we’re sedentary right now, maybe we’re not eating well right now. But it’s never too late to make the change,” said Rodgers.