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Exercise guidelines for a person with
heart failure include:
NOTE: Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
Warm up before you exercise, and cool down afterward—for at least 15
minutes each. This will help your heart gradually prepare for and recover from
exercise and avoid pushing your heart too hard.
A good warm-up and cooldown consists of very light activity, such
as slow walking or cycling, followed by stretching that focuses on the muscles
used during the session.
Stretching relaxes the mind and tunes up the body. Numerous
benefits are associated with an increase of flexibility, such as improvement in
overall balance, stability, and mobility. It also promotes good circulation,
increases your level of relaxation, and just feels good.
A lack of flexibility is often associated with poor posture and low
back pain. Stretch in a slow, controlled manner and continue to breathe through
each stretch. Begin by trying each stretch once and gradually increasing the
duration and repetition as you feel more comfortable. Carefully follow the
Make stretching a part of your warm-up and cooldown every time you
Aerobic activities that are popular with people who have heart failure
are walking and stationary cycling. Remember to first exercise at a low
intensity. You can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your
exercise sessions as long as your tolerance improves with no symptoms. Listen
to your body by monitoring your
rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and being aware of
your heart rate. Your rehab team may give you a target heart rate range that is safe for you.
An example of a walking and cycling program for people who have heart
failure is shown below.
Stop exercising and alert your doctor if you experience angina (chest pain or pressure), shortness of breath, unexplained dizziness, or significant pain or discomfort.
Weight training has been shown to be very effective for people who have
heart problems. It can improve your muscular strength and endurance as
well as help reduce cardiac risk factors. It also helps decrease how hard your
heart must work during daily activities.
It is important that you follow your health professional's
guidelines regarding correct technique, breathing, and intensity while you
Current as of:
September 27, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
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