Walking, jogging, biking or using the stationary bike are excellent ways to improve your strength and endurance. They are also some of the simplest and most affordable ways to get and stay fit.
Before you begin an exercise program, check with your doctor to see if it is recommended. If you begin exercising, start gently and progressively increase your activity over time. By doing so, you’ll help condition your heart muscle to pump more effectively.
Features of a Good Exercise Plan
- You pace yourself. Being active is important, but it’s also important to provide your body with enough rest. Frequent breaks may be needed depending on the degree of your heart failure.
- You avoid weather extremes—cold, hot or humid. Remember, your local mall is always temperature-controlled—perfect for walking.
- You take care not to stress your heart after exercising by avoiding extremely cold or hot showers or saunas.
- You understand that your exercise plan may get interrupted, and when it does, you ease back into your regular routine.
By monitoring your heart as you settle into your exercise routine, you’ll get a sense of whether you are overexerting yourself. It’s important to increase your activity over time, without doing too much too quickly. Learn more about the perceived exertion scale used in cardiac rehabilitation facilities to help heart failure patients monitor themselves during exercise.
Last Reviewed: April 25, 2011 V-00304