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Heart Disease: Fitness

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Keeping fit is an important part of maintaining one’s heart health. “Exercise can be both safe and helpful for many people with heart disease, with and without surgery,” state the authors of “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” (Bull Publishing, 2012). “Exercise can lower your risk for future problems, reduce the need for hospitalization, and improve your quality of life.”

The American Heart Association, which suggests 150 minutes or more of “moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week” to prevent heart disease. Walking is one of the exercises recommended by the AHA. There are tips for what to wear when walking, how many miles to walk, how many minutes to walk, how to stretch for walking, and the best time of day to walk all on the American Heart Association website.

Walk with a Doc is an international non-profit program that pairs local doctors and healthcare professionals with walkers in local communities. These informal gatherings occur on a weekly or monthly basis in parks and other outdoor public spaces and can be a pleasant social activity too.

Swimming, light calisthenics, and riding a stationary bicycle are generally considered safe conditioning activities for those with heart disease.

People tend to be more successful with their exercise regimen when they have an accountability partner—someone who provides encouragement and assistance to make it possible to reach goals.
Communicate with a health care provider to get the most out of an exercise program and to ensure the safety of any new exercise regimen.

“Some heart conditions limit the kinds of and amount of exercise you do,” explain the authors of “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.” Poor circulation, irregular heartbeats, or severe heart disease require that a health care provider might need to give clearance before a person should exercise.  “Always remember that if you develop new or different symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or rapid or irregular heartbeat while at rest or while exercising, you should stop what you are doing and contact your physician.”

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