Those recovering from a heart failure must gradually include low impact workouts under medical supervision in order to strengthen their heart

Leading an active life will keep you healthy and your heart happy. It helps you balance your weight and prevents arterial damage caused by high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. However, some studies show that exercising too much can burden your heart and impair its functioning in the long run. Hence it is important to understand how much is too much and where to draw the line. This can be achieved by staying alert to changes in your body while you exercise and by consulting a doctor before pushing your limits. But the fact that exercise is essential for a healthy heart is indisputable.


Exercise after Heart Disease


Those recovering from heart failure must gradually include low-impact workouts under medical supervision in order to strengthen their heart. Like any muscle, the heart needs exercise to keep fit, even after a heart attack. Cardiac Rehab is all about strengthening your heart and giving you the confidence as well to live a happy life in spite of a heart attack. People with a history of heart disease, need to begin their workout sessions in the presence of a doctor or an instructor trained to help people with heart conditions. Their progress will be monitored, and the intensity of the exercises is increased depending on how their heart responds to the activity.


For most people recovering from a heart attack or diagnosed with heart disease the easiest form of exercise, to begin with, is walking.


  • The routine begins with a ten-minute leisurely walk on alternate days for at least a week and then increases the duration by five minutes over the next couple of weeks.
  • Once the patient feels comfortable with this pattern, the doctor might suggest walking at a brisker pace for 15 minutes, four times a week.
  • After two weeks, the duration is increased to 20 minutes and after another two weeks, the patient can increase it to a 30-minute brisk walk 5 times a week.
  • A five-minute leisurely walk before and after the workout helps warm up and cool down, which is just as important as the workout itself.
  • The patient should be able to continue this routine indefinitely.
  • Increasing the duration, frequency and intensity of the workout depend entirely on the individual’s ability. However, it is essential to consult with your cardiologist before intensifying your training.

Three Types of Heart-Friendly Exercises


#1 Aerobics/ Cardio Workouts

  • – Aerobic exercise improves blood circulation and how your heart pumps blood.
  • – It also lowers blood pressure and helps those with diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.
  • – Depending on your overall fitness and heart health you need to pick a suitable level of aerobics exercises.
  • – Some effective low-impact exercises include brisk walking, swimming, rowing (use the rowing machine at a gym), cycling and skating.
  • – Increase the duration and intensity of the workout gradually.
  • – If you have a history of heart disease, start with a guided Cardiac Rehab programme before intensifying your workout.

#2 Strength/ Resistance Training

  • – It tones your muscles and strengthens your bones too.
  • – Resistance Training can help overweight people lose fat and build leaner muscles.
  • – Free weights, resistance bands and body resistance exercises such as push-ups, squats and sit-ups are part of this regimen.
  • – Include at least two non-consecutive days of Resistance training per week in your workout schedule.
  • – Those with heart disease need to consult with their doctor before beginning Strength Training.

#3 Flexibility

  • – These exercises help keep your joints loose and supple, improve your balance and help with range of motion.
  • – Stretching before and after your workout helps you stay flexible, reduces joint pain, and prevents muscle cramping.
  • – You can learn basic stretches and practice them at home.
  • – Yoga and Tai Chi are also recommended to keep your body flexible through slow movements.

Red Flags while working out


When you work out it is normal to sweat, be aware of your breathing and even feel relaxed. These are all normal and signal that your body is comfortable, yet active. However, there are some signs that one should not ignore, with or without a history of heart disease:


  • Chest pain
  • Dizzy spells
  • Excessive gasping
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Excessive sweating with minimal exercise

These signs may not be indicative of heart disease, but they are signs that your body is not comfortable with whatever activity you are subjecting it to. Stop immediately. If the signs persist, it is best to see a doctor. With the help of your doctor, chart out an exercise plan.


Pick out a workout plan that is not stressful and includes activities you enjoy doing. This guarantees that you will not quit your routine. Persistence is key if you want to see long-term benefits.


Dr.ASHOKKUMAR - CONSULTANT - CARDIOLOGY at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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