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Healthy Living

Regular moderate exercise is an important part of heart healthy living, even for people with heart failure. Exercise can help the heart get stronger and work better. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, improve circulation, lower cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure. Regular moderate exercise can also help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Before you begin

Before you begin, receive a physical examination from your doctor. Ask your doctor what type of exercise program is best for you. Your doctor may order tests to find out how much exercise your heart can handle. Your doctor may refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program, physical therapist, or personal trainer to help you get started.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs are a great way for people with heart failure or those with concerns about exercise to get started. Exercise is performed in a supervised setting with nurses or therapists to monitor any signs of discomfort. Exercise routines are increased as your tolerance improves. Many cardiac rehabilitation program offer nutrition planning, stress management, and smoking cessation.

Exercise on your own

After receiving your doctor’s okay, there are many options for exercising on your own. Check local gyms, churches, senior centers, and community centers for exercise classes that interest you. Home gym equipment and exercise videos are another alternative. Make exercise fun by joining friends or walking your dog.

Strive to perform 30 minutes of moderate exercise each weekday, and ideally daily. Examples of moderate aerobic activities are walking, swimming, and biking. Remember to check your heart rate and other parameters as set by your doctor.

Exercise Tips

  • Warm up, stretch, and gradually increase your activity level. At the end of your exercise session, cool down by reducing your intensity and stretching.
  • Make exercise a habit by performing activities at the same time each day.
  • Keep an exercise log.
  • Vary activities to make it interesting. For example, walk one day, participate in a class the next, and bike the next day.
  • Join walking clubs. Many shopping malls welcome walkers. This is a great activity during inclement weather.