Heart Disease and Exercise – Taking it Easy

Heart Disease and Exercise – Taking it Easy

It is common knowledge that a healthy diet and exercise help to stave off heart problems. However, after being diagnosed with heart disease, it’s important to take things slow. Too much exercise can actually have adverse health effects and it is important to be aware of the type and intensity of fitness that is right for your body. 

The Heart and Stroke Foundation offers a comprehensive outline of this important topic. The resources provided can help address the uncertainty associated with a diagnosis.

The best place to start is through a cardiac rehabilitation program. The Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada is a useful tool to assist in finding a program near you. These facilities offer a range of expertise to help guide you toward lifestyle changes that are safe and beneficial. By working with a variety of specialists including cardiologists, nurses, exercise professionals, dietitians and psychologists, you will be able to better understand your health from a holistic perspective.

Exercise is imperative for heart health and longevity but looks quite different for those who have heart disease. When starting to be physically active, it is important to take baby steps – quite literally. Walking should be slow and careful, with many breaks built-in. Walking in a hallway, a local park, or in the mall are all good places to start. For the first week of exercise, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends a ten-minute slow walk every other day. In the second week, twenty minutes every other day is ideal, with the middle ten minutes being taken at a brisker pace. Week three ups walking to four twenty-five minute sessions per week. By week five, forty-minute walks, five times per week are recommended and can include gentle uphill strolls and arm movement. From there, experts can assist in finding a balance and pace that will work indefinitely. 

An easy guideline is to follow the rules of FITT, which stand for frequency, intensity, time and type. With help from medical professionals, setting achievable goals within each of these categories will assist in keeping you on a steady path towards an ideal fitness level. 

Overall, the most important thing to do is to pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you. Ideally, while exercising you will feel comfortable and relaxed. Shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, nervousness and extensive sweating are important to avoid. Even if you feel strong and fit, it is imperative that you do not push yourself beyond what is healthy for your body at this phase in the process. When in doubt, always remember – slow and steady wins the race. 


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