Earlier this year we encouraged the bleeding disorders community to vote for Vaughn Ripley, fitness guru living with hemophilia and HIV, during a Men’s Health cover contest. Due to your support, Vaughn received nearly 30,000 votes, earning him the below article in the November edition of the magazine! This article helps to bring awareness and education about hemophilia to the 14 million readers of Men’s Health:
I Improve Incrementally Every Day, Vaugh Ripley, 47
He’s HIV positive and has hemophilia, but he isn’t defined by disease – and nearly 30,000 Mens Health readers voted for him because of it.
About 28 years ago, my physician told me I’d contracted HIV through a bath of bad blood and that I had less than two years to live. But I believed I could put off my death sentence by staying physically fit. I adopted a kaizen philosophy – continuously making incremental improvements. Every day I make myself stronger through strength training, running, riding, and doing tai chi. I race in six or seven events a year. I extended the kaizen philosophy to the other roles in my life – father, husband, provider, and advocate for people living with hemophilia and HIV. I’ve always coped by believing I could make small changes for the better. I start each day by saying my favorite Japanese proverb: Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to nara. “Piled-up specks of dust can turn into a mountain.”
-November edition of Mens Health
Learn more about Vaughn by reading this article that was published in our 2013 summer edition of Dateline. Vaughn wrote about the importance of being physically active as an adult man with hemophilia, and why he choose to participate in our annual Gears for Good charity bike.
Two years ago, I heard about the HFA ’s “Gears for Good” bicycle ride along the C&O Canal. Only two years prior to that I had riddenthe C&O Canal Towpath trail from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD (the opposite direction of the GfG ride) and was excited to ride the other way. Hearing about this ride was a fortuitous epiphany for me, as I’m always seeking new fitness adventures. This particular ride is not only challenging, but it its run by HFA and supports hemophilia awareness, which is a win-win in my book! That being said, I plan to pedal this ride every year!
As a hemophiliac, I’ve long been aware that fitness and overall health were especially beneficial to me and help to curb my bleeds. I have also found which activities improve my joints and which ones have ended up doing more harm than good (like rock climbing). Over the years, I’ve whittled down the types of physical activity I participate in and, utilizing the limited wisdom I have narrowed this list down to a few powerful exercise types. High on my list is bicycle riding. Gears for Good was a perfect fit!
My primary reason for doing this ride, as I said, is for fitness and improving my body’s ability to survive trauma. When done correctly, I’ve found fitness to enhance my joint strength, increase lubrication of target joints, improve my flexibility, and help my healing process when faced with a bleed. These benefits add up to create a healthier and relatively bleed-free me!
Healthy lifestyles have been proven scientifically to lengthen your life, improve your mental capabilities, lessen stress and depression, decrease your chance for heart disease, and give you more energy. As a hemophiliac, I have found a plethora of additional benefits related to my bleeding disorder. Strengthening joints not only helps to stabilize them and prevent injuries, but it also helps with repair during and after a bleeding episode. Bicycle riding is a fantastic exercise option for people with a bleeding disorder because it is low impact and builds muscle and joint strength by incorporating some of the biggest problem areas like ankles, knees, and hips.
Bicycle riding targets the glutes (your butt), quads, hamstrings, and calves. Yet this exceptionally good exercise doesn’t stop there. Many stabilizers and assisting muscles come into play during a ride. Your lower back, abs, and triceps are worked during the ride as well. Even the forearms, shoulders, upper back, and chest come into play while riding your bike. Suffice to say that bicycle training targets the legs and works the entire body out. On top of the muscle gains, it is also a wonderful cardiovascular workout that helps the respiratory system too. Riding builds muscle, burns fat, increases your cardio and respiratory capacity, and adds years to your life to boot!
As you can see, I’m a huge fan of riding. And, I think it is one of the primary reasons I experience fewer bleeds and problems related to my hemophilia.
In addition to the obvious anatomical improvements, the ride has also helped me to build several lifelong relationships with other “bleeders” and their parents from around the country. These connections have fostered a healthier lifestyle and improved knowledge for me. The amount of friends that I have from the bleeding disorder community is growing each and every year. Gears for Good is a big part of that growth.
As you guys and gals know, the overall theme of this summer’s issue of Dateline is T. E. A. M (Together Everyone Achieves More). I believe that the relationships and benefits that you will receive from the Gears for Good ride is a perfect example of what T. E. A. M. stands for. As individuals, we can only go so far, but when we team up with like-minded folks who are having similar experiences, we increase our ability to learn and grow exponentially! It is imperative that we do things on a daily basis to improve ourselves, and this is a wonderful avenue to do just that with a group of amazing people.
If you are (or someone you know is) living with a bleeding disorder, I would highly recommend this extraordinary ride as a way to improve your overall fitness abilities, create new friendships, enjoy some of the most stunning scenery you will ever experience, and to glean abundant information, experience, and knowledge from a fantastic collection of diverse, caring people!
Come join my “easy bleeding” friends and me this September on this momentous ride to raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters in the bleeding community!
Vaughn Ripley is a certified personal trainer with the NSPA. He’s also the author of Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. You can read more fun-filled information at his blog: www.hivlongevity.com.[/glossary_exclude]