Safe Exercise for Heart Disease

Health Professional

Exercise is great tool for strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and improving circulation.

However, if you do have heart disease, you need to be cautious as you begin an exercise program. It's vital to discuss with your doctor before starting ANY exercise routine.

4 warnings to watch for during exercis. Stop exercise if you become short of breath or overly fatigued. Granted, exercise will cause you to breathe harder and you should feel like you have exerted yourself after a solid workout. Discuss what is acceptable for you with your doctor.

2. If you deal with shortness of breath regularly, even when not exercising, contact your doctor. You may need to adjust your diet, fluid intake, or medications.

3. If you develop heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat, stop exercising. Rest for 15 minutes and then take your pulse. If you heart rate remains greater than 120 beats per minutes, contact your doctor.

4. Don’t ignore pain. Ignoring pain can lead to injury.

When to stop exercising

Stop exercising and contact your doctor or go to the ER if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Swelling or unexpected weight gain
  • Pain in your neck, arm, jaw, shoulder or other symptoms that cause concern of a heart attack

Where to begierobic exercise is one of the best choices for improving your cardiovascular health. Being aerobically fit means your body is able to more efficiently perform activities without having to gasp for breath/oxygen. Some aerobic activities include walking, swimming, running, basketball, and tennis. If you are just getting started, walking is likely your best choice. Don’t underrate the benefits or difficulty of establishing a brisk walking program. Walking allows for different intensity levels and results in fewer injuries than many other options. Walking does not require special equipment and it can be completed just about anywhere.

One aerobic exercise session should include a minimum of 30 minutes. You may opt to break this into three 10-minutes segments. Exercise intensity is generally 70 to 85 percent of max heart rate. HOWEVER, this will vary for each individual. Discuss with your doctor to confirm your goal intensity level. The most consistent benefits tend to be seen if aerobic exercise takes place at least three times a week for a duration of at least 12 weeks. Exercising more than three times weekly can equal greater results.

You do also want to include resistance training in your routine if approved by your doctor. Resistance training should be performed a minimum of two to three times weekly with eight to ten different exercises for all major muscle groups. The major muscle groups include your arms, shoulders, chest, back, hips, and legs. Lift a weight that allows for 10 to 15 repetitions resulting in moderate fatigue by your last few reps.

There is greater risk for injury with resistance training. If you have never done resistance training, you should get guidance from your physical therapist or a trainer before starting.

Get in the routineGetting into a regular habit of exercising throughout the week can be difficult, we know, even if you know the benefits are worth it. Utilize** How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits** to set yourself up for success as you work to add exercise to your routine.