Exercise For Cardiac Patients

In Exercise Reduces Heart Disease  we discussed the importance of regular exercise for women with heart issues. Unfortunately, there are various barriers to women actually participating in exercise after suffering a cardiac event, several of which were explored in Exercise Reduces Heart Disease.

Safety must always come first when starting an exercise program after heart attack and for cardiac patients who are considering initiating an exercise regimen.  Unsupervised or haphazardly-planned activities could potentially lead to a worsening of heart disease symptoms, or even a repeat heart attack. With this said, be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any form of exercise. If you have not attended cardiac rehabilitation after your cardiovascular event, you should by no means go to a gym and take matters into your own hands without knowing your limitations.  This means no lifting weights; no strenuous exercises and if you can cannot talk and walk you are going too fast.  Again, be sure to check with your physician before starting any exercise program and know your limitations.

Your exercise routine should focus on aerobic (also known as cardiovascular) activities. Here is a by-no-means exhaustive list of activities to discuss with your doctor:

  • Brisk walking;
  • Cycling;
  • Swimming;
  • Stairmaster;
  • Rowing machine; and
  • Dancing.

Spend five minutes warming up with light stretching and spend another five minutes slowly cooling down at the end of your exercise.

It is highly advisable that you ease into exercising, so you may wish to start with activities that can be incorporated into your daily routine, such as:

  • Light housekeeping;
  • Sweeping and vacuuming;
  • Cooking and folding;
  • Light gardening; and
  • Easy yoga.

Another useful form of light exercise involves improving your flexibility. Stretching and movement of the joints will keep you limber, and will also improve circulation to the muscles in your body, aiding with reduction of ischemic heart disease symptoms.

Here are some further pointers to consider when embarking upon an exercise routine:

  • Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity – this includes hot showers, baths, and saunas; and no ice bathing, either;
  • Drink plenty of water – unless you have been told by your health care provider to limit your fluid intake. Thirst is a lagging indicator of dehydration so do not wait until you feel thirsty to begin drinking;
  • Do not test your limits – motivation is a good thing; however, take your time and gradually build your strength and endurance; and
  • Heavy lifting – this can be a great form of exercise, but not for the person that has just had a heart attack! Moving furniture and shoveling snow are also a big no-no’s, it is vital that you speak with your doctor before any exercise regime.

Again, it must be stressed that safety is of the utmost importance to prevent recurrence of heart issues. If you notice any symptoms, such as breathing difficulty, pain in your chest, back, neck or arms, or dizziness, you should stop what you are doing and consult your doctor.

For more information read, A Woman’s Heart Attack: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You: What Every Women Needs to Know to Prevent, Recover, and Heal from a Heart Attack.  Although, this book was written with the female heart in mind, there are many aspects that are equally important for men  recovering and healing from a heart attack or heart failure.

Copyright © 2013 DoriNaerbo.com. All rights reserved





  1. I can’t hit the gym yet as my physician advised me not to. I’ve been doing car cleaning as my exercise during the morning until I could do some weight training in gym.

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