Can you be Active with Heart Disease?

Exercise is one of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease. However, what if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease? Despite what many people may think, having a cardiovascular condition does not mean you can’t partake in physical activity. The good news is that not only can you remain physically active with heart disease, but you should exercise to make your heart stronger.

Staying Active With Heart Disease

It may take some adjustment and some guidance from a trained professional like a physical therapist, but it’s possible and even encouraged to be active even if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease. It’s a commonly believed myth that if you’re young, you don’t have to worry about cardiovascular diseases. However, how you take care of yourself now can affect your risk of heart disease later on in your life. Clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and other risk factors can start occurring early on in life because of an inactive lifestyle and/or an unhealthy diet.

However, even if your risk is high or you’ve been diagnosed, it doesn’t mean you can’t remain or even become physically active. With the right program and the right guidance, exercising can not only decrease your risk of heart disease but also decrease the symptoms. The right exercise program can even help you recover from a heart attack or other serious health problems.

Physical Activity For The Heart

The best physical activities for the heart are those that move the legs and arms, as this increases blood flow and cardiovascular function. These exercises, called aerobic exercises, strengthen the heart and help lower the risk of heart-related problems even in older adults. Such exercises include walking, running, swimming, biking, and dancing, says the American Heart Association. Activities, especially walking, can improve your heart’s function and decrease your symptoms. Recent research has even shown that exercising is perfectly safe for people with heart-related problems.

However, it’s important to talk to your doctor first and seek medical advice for your particular condition. You should get clearance and guidance before starting any exercise program.

Tips For Getting Started

Remember, before starting any exercise program, especially after a heart-related incident, you should start gradually. Starting with too much too soon can not only keep you from recovering fully but could increase symptoms.

  • Warm-up and cool down properly by moving around your muscles and stretching.
  • Listen to your body and take adequate breaks. It’s OK if you can’t do as much as you used to. Pushing yourself too much could keep you from recovering.
  • Breathe steadily. Holding your breath or taking shallow breaths will decrease the efficiency of your heart and blood flow. This impedes movement and muscle motion.
  • Seek out a physical therapist or athletic trainer. They will know the right way to do the exercises, as well as guide you through the right program for you. Physical therapists can also be a part of your cardiac rehabilitation program and help you through the process.

Those tasked with your health, such as your doctor and physical therapist, will recommend the right exercise program for you. They will make sure that you’re exercising within your limits – not pushing you too hard or too little. Each person is different, including each person’s condition. This is why following your own designated program is more beneficial than a general approach.