Heart Failure and activity
Like all muscles, your heart can benefit from physical activity. Medical opinion strongly supports regular activity for people with Heart Failure (HF). Combined with medicine and changes in diet, it’s been shown to help them live longer, more active lives.
You don’t have to start a formal exercise program. You just need to keep moving. Even going for a walk around the block can be helpful. If that’s too much for you, stand up and stretch, or do some seated exercises.
Everyone’s different. Be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any physical activity plan to make sure it’s safe for your health.
Ask your doctor to recommend the level of activity that works for you. If you haven't been exercising, take it easy—and start slowly. But get started. Consider using a daily activity tracker to help monitor how you're doing.
Health experts agree that you should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Think of it as at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week
If this sounds like a lot to you, break your activity into shorter chunks—maybe 10 minutes at a time
The recommended goal is moderate-intensity activity (think brisk walking). But that’s not right for everyone. Your doctor will advise you on what activity—and how much—is right for you and your heart.
Keep a record of your activity to help you stick with it. Download a form and fill it out day by day to share with the doctor.
Forget “No pain, no gain.” Yes, you should aim for regular daily activity. But you can do it your way. Here are some ideas to discuss with your doctor:
Match your activity to your health and your abilities. If standing or walking is not realistic for you, start with exercises you can do sitting down
Do what you enjoy. For example, dancing is a fun and healthy activity. Take this time to learn something you’ve always wanted to master. Or go back to something you had given up
Include gardening or cleaning the house as part of your activity plan
Make a regular date. Meet with a friend or family member if you don’t like to exercise alone. Or join a group. When you're doing moderate exercise, you should even be able to chat as you go
Mix and match your activities. If you’re the kind of person who gets bored, try a brisk walk one day, maybe gentle water aerobics the next
Here are some ways to help keep yourself on track:
Exercise at the same time of day, every day. It’ll be easier to keep it up
Keep a record. Note how many repetitions you did or how far you were able to go. Track all your accomplishments, big and small, and celebrate your milestones
Have a backup for bad weather. For instance, walking around your local mall
Don’t get discouraged. If you stop for any reason, begin again and work back to where you were
For some rules of thumb on exercise and activity, register for the Keep It Pumping resource program, including your free Heart Failure Handbook.
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