Physical Activity and Heart Conditions
Research suggests that regular physical activity benefits people living with heart conditions, as well as those who are not. The NHS states that regular physical activity can even improve symptoms of heart conditions.
Exercising with a Heart Condition
If you are living with a heart condition the idea of physical activity may seem daunting and risky, and you may be uncertain where to start.
According to the NHS, if you have heart failure, you should be offered an exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programme. You can find out more about cardiac rehabilitation and find your nearest centre by clicking here.
The following information is taken from an article within the British Heart Foundation Health Matters Magazine, which you can access by clicking here.
How do I start getting active after a heart event?
Lisa Docherty, Highly Specialist Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Nurse: Gentle walking is the best way to start, even if it's just for two minutes. Do what you can manage. Do it every day until it feels easier, then increase the time, and later the speed.
Aim to be exercising for 15–20 minutes at a time by weeks four to six. By this time you should also have started attending cardiac rehabilitation sessions.
Which types of exercises are best?
Stefan Birkett, Exercise Specialist with expertise in exercise testing and research: Walking costs nothing. You can do it at a level to suit you, and it can build up your fitness before you start rehab. After that, the choice of exercise is up to you, as long as your health professional agrees.
But I've always done cycling/tennis/football – can't I do this instead?
Eddie Caldow, Exercise Physiologist: We would recommend waiting a few weeks, until you've started cardiac rehabilitation and can be assessed by a professional. If you have had prompt treatment after a heart attack, you may quickly feel better physically and want to get back to whatever you used to do, but it is still best to let the heart recover.
We wouldn't recommend doing any sport without seeking the advice of a professional first.
Below you will find links to more articles from the Heart Matters Magazine which is a great place to start to find support and advice to help you get active.
- Is it safe to exercise with a heart condition?
- Swimming and walking and returning to fitness after a heart event.
- Tips to get fit and return to exercise after a heart event.