published January 31, 2014
Curling and Lupus
As the Winter Olympics approach, lupus patient Regan Mizuno shares her passion for curling for health and raising awareness and funds
by Regan Mizuno
Lupus and curling: you wouldn’t necessarily think of them as a match, would you? But I’ve found that the sport has been one of the best things that has happened to me, and has changed my life for the better.
And I’m so proud to share this passion to help raise awareness about another huge part of my life, lupus, by hosting the inaugural “Lupus ‘Spiel USA” Pro-Am tournament (or “bonspiel”) the weekend of May 2-4 at the Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine. The event is designed to raise awareness of lupus and support for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota.
To start, personally, my lupus involves the kidneys, and I was on Cytoxan for two and a half years. Shortly after finishing the treatment, I still felt bad; I had trouble climbing the stairs (I had to use a cane to do it), and physically was in no shape to really do much of anything. I didn’t walk a lot and I didn’t even leave the house.
I waited – waited to feel better. I think I knew I’d get better, I just didn’t know when or how, really. Slowly, at the beginning, I started exercising, walking a bit on the treadmill and some Pilates. And then curling came up. At a friend’s mention of it, I started it and couldn’t believe how much of a challenge it was or how much I loved it. I think it’s one of the reasons I am better today.
Curling is the Olympic sport that involves throwing a granite “rock” or “stone” down a 150-foot long sheet of ice to a target, the “house.” It involves memory skills, balance, and muscle strength. As “skip” or the captain of the team who strategically calls the shots, one has to remember where to put the broom for sweeping the path of the stone, what the ice does, and what kind of shots you should call for good strategy.
Basically, I started curling as a skip, and pretty soon I learned that it was good for me. It’s a low impact sport where cardiac involvement is what you make it to be. When sweeping at full strength, you can get your heart rate up pretty high. It involves strength training in that you’ve got to squat to deliver the stone, and push from the “hack” (or starter block) to do that. Curling helps build leg strength and muscle endurance. Because it can be eased in to, and you can work as hard as you want during a game and take it easy and rest when needed, I highly recommend it for lupus patients. Exercise is important, and curling is great exercise to get started!
And this passion is now part of my daily life, as I’m Director of Communications at the Four Seasons Curling Club. The Club will be represented in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, as two members, Jessica Schultz and Allison Pottinger, compete in Sochi, Russia.
Feel free to reach out to me at the curling club (763-780-3328) for a free introduction to curling for yourself or come join us for the ‘spiel in May to see more what it’s all about.
I continue to curl and hope to curl as long as I live … for the enjoyment and the health of it. Even my grandma, who is 89, is still curling!