Creating an Exercise Plan

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After you have completed cardiac rehabilitation or physical therapy, your doctor may recommend that you design your own exercise plan or fitness routine. If you regularly walked, jogged, biked or ran prior to your heart valve surgery, ask your doctor if you can resume that routine following your recovery.

Before you begin an exercise program, check with your doctor to see what activity he or she recommends for you. 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. Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise you can do. More aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, or bicycle riding, will provide cardiovascular conditioning.

Five Features of a Good Exercise Plan

  1. Pace yourself. Being active is important, but it’s also important to provide your body with enough rest.
  2. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. It’s important to stay hydrated during any form of physical activity.
  3. Avoid weather extremes: cold, hot or humid. Remember, your local mall is always temperature-controlled; perfect for walking.
  4. Take care not to stress your heart after exercising by avoiding extremely cold or hot showers or saunas.
  5. Understand that your exercise plan may get interrupted, and when it does, you ease back into your regular routine.

By monitoring your heart rate 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.