How Active Should You Be?
Not long ago, people with heart failure were told to rest as much as possible. However, in recent years, new guidelines have emerged.
Although it is important not to strain your heart, doctors now recommend that people with heart failure should keep active.
- An exercise program may improve your ability to function and can reduce your symptoms.
- Being active can give you a more positive outlook.
Moving Forward with Your Life
It is important to talk to us about how active you should be. You should also set goals to help you get there. For example, begin with limited activities, such as a few holes of golf, a short walk, or a little tennis. If that works, try more.
We can give you exercise guidelines that tell you:
The best exercise involves using your legs. Most people with heart failure choose to walk. Walking is excellent for your heart.
- How long you should exercise.
- How often you should exercise.
- How hard you should exercise.
You need to start slowly, and build up your strength and stamina gradually. You will also need to follow certain safety guidelines.
Use the following safety guidelines:
- Before beginning an exercise program, talk to us to learn what types of physical activity will be safe for you.
- Take the "talk test". If you are too short of breath to talk while you walk, slow down or stop and rest.
- Stop exercising right away if you feel dizzy or have any pain.
- Be sure to allow plenty of time for rest every day, especially after meals. In particular, wait about 1.5 hours after eating before beginning any physical activity.
- Walking, biking, and dancing are good aerobic exercise for people with heart disease because they make use of large muscle groups. Choose an activity that is repetitive and rhythmic, rather than sports such as tennis that require sudden bursts of activity.
- Walk outside if the weather is not too hot, cold, or humid. Otherwise, try a treadmill indoors, or indoor shopping mall, which are usually air conditioned in summer and heated in winter.
- Isometric exercises, particularly those involving the arms (e.g. shoveling, lifting weights) are not recommended. Don't carry anything heavier than 20 pounds going upstairs or 60 pounds on the level.
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American Heart Association's Advice on Exercise and Heart Failure
Read the advice that American Heart Association provides to patients with heart failure. The article addresses common concerns about exercising and provides an extensive list of exercising DOs and DONTs.
- Exercise and Your Heart: A Guide to Physical Activity
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and American Heart Association provides up-to-date information on the effects of physical activity on your heart, and practical guidelines for starting and staying on your own exercise program. We hope this information will help you consider the ways in which physical activity can help you enjoy life more fully.