There is almost no disease that exercise doesn’t benefit. As such, just because you have a heart disease doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and do nothing. In fact, with regular exercise (greater than 150 minutes a week), you may hasten your recovery, improve heart function and even get off of some of the medications you’re on.
Cardiovascular benefits of exercise include:
- Strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Improving your circulation and helping your body use oxygen better.
- Improving your heart failure symptoms.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Improving cholesterol.
It’s never too late to increase your physical activity or start an exercise program. Get an “OK” and some guidelines from your physician before you start.
Getting Started: Things to Discuss with Your Doctor
Always check with your doctor first before starting an exercise program. Your doctor can help you find a program for your level of fitness and physical condition.
Here are some discussion questions:
- How much exercise can I do?
- How often can I exercise each week?
- What type of exercise should I do?
- What type of activities should I avoid?
- Should I take my medication(s) at a certain time around my exercise schedule?
- Do I have to take my pulse while exercising?
Your doctor may decide to do a stress test, echo, or modify your medications. Always check with your doctor first before initiating any exercise.
Warnings During Exercise:
There are some precautions you must keep in mind when developing an exercise program:
- Stop the exercise if you become overly fatigued or short of breath; discuss the symptoms with your doctor or schedule an appointment for evaluation.
- Do not exercise if you are not feeling well or were very recently ill. You should wait a few days after all symptoms disappear before restarting the exercise program. If uncertain, check with your doctor first!
- If you have persistent shortness of breath, rest, and call your doctor. The doctor may make changes in medications, diet, or fluid restrictions.
- Stop the activity if you develop a rapid or irregular heartbeat or have heart palpitations. Check your pulse after you have rested for 15 minutes. If it’s above 120 beats per minute at rest, call your doctor.
- If you experience pain, don’t ignore it. If you have chest pain or pain anywhere else in the body, do not allow the activity to continue. Performing an activity while in pain may cause stress or damage to the joints.
- If you pass out, call your doctor or seek urgent care.
Stop Exercising and Rest if You Have Any of the Following Symptoms:
- Chest pain.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Unexplained weight gain or swelling (call your doctor right away)
- Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder or any other symptoms that cause concern.
- Never exercise to the point of chest pain or angina. If you develop chest pain during exercise, call the hospital immediately.
Here are a few guidelines to avoid overdoing it:
It Takes Time:
- As such, gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly. Don’t run a marathon in day one!
- Wait at least 60-90 minutes after eating a meal before exercising.
- When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow your fluid restriction guidelines.
- Warm up and cool down!
- Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to still talk during the activity. Keep an exercise log.
Just follow these guidelines and with correct and moderate exercise and appropriate nutrition, you will soon be on your way to having a healthy heart and body.