- Any increase in your level of physical activity brings benefit both physically and mentally. What and how much you can do will depend on the extent of your heart condition / your individual limitations.
- It is important that you discuss with your doctor before you begin, how much and what kind of exercise would be suitable for you.
- It is recommended that you aim to be moderately physically active for at least 30 minutes per day. However this does not have to be in one go. For example, it can be divided into 3*10 minute sections or 2*15 minute sections.
Please note: For specific information about exercising with your condition please see the common heart conditions section.
The benefits of keeping active include:
- Increasing your exercise tolerance which enables you to do more as you become fitter
- Helping to lower cholesterol levels
- Helping to lower high blood pressure
- Helping you to lose weight
- Keeping you supple and more mobile
- Strengthening your muscles, joints and bones
- Reducing tension, encouraging relaxation and promoting sleep
- Giving you a sense of well being and confidence
- Helping to reduce anxiety and depression
Remember that the heart is a muscle and it needs to be exercised to keep it strong. When you are sitting still it hardly has to work at all. The less you do the less you become able to do.
Exercise can be enjoyable!
- Try to build physical activity into your daily routine e.g. walk part of the way to work, use the stairs instead of taking the lift.
- If you are able to do some form of regular exercise, choose something that keeps your limbs moving and makes you breathe in more air (dynamic and aerobic exercise) e.g. swimming, walking, cycling or dancing.
- In order to prevent injury it is advisable to spend five to ten minutes gently warming up (e.g. by walking briskly) before you exercise. Once you have finished, spend a few minutes cooling down and stretching to allow your heart rate to return to normal. This is particularly important if you have underlying heart disease.
- Remember that you are aiming to gradually increase what you do in small stages. Joining a club or exercise class can help to keep you motivated. If you chose an activity that you enjoy you are more likely to keep exercising.