Exercise and activity are difficult for people with heart failure due to the heart's reduced capacity to meet the body's oxygen demands. In healthy individuals, heart output can increase up to 6 fold during exercise, which isn't possible for many people with heart failure. Many people with heart failure even report that they have exercise intolerance. Intolerance makes it uncomfortable to exercise and leads to symptoms of fatigue. However, most people with heart failure are still encouraged to remain active because doing so strengthens the heart and increases cardio output, which can improve quality of life greatly. They just have to be a little smarter about working exercise and activity into their lifestyle. If you have heart failure, follow these tips for staying active.
Talk to Your Doctor
Everyone's health situation is different, so it's important that you talk to your doctor about the types of activities you can do and which ones you need to avoid. You should also ask them how much and how often you can exercise or engage in physical activities. In order to help you exercise in a way that won't harm your health, your doctor may encourage you to attend a cardiac rehabilitation program where you can follow a tailored exercise program.
Start Exercising Gradually
When you decide to start exercising, you can't just jump right in. Your heart failure presents some limitations. For this reason, it's important for you to start out slowly. At first, lighten the intensity and shorten the duration of your workout. If you can only tolerate walking for five minutes, that's a good place to start. Walk five minutes several times per day until you can add a minute or two. Eventually, you may be able to walk faster and longer.
Get Active Regularly
Don't simply sit around and wait until it's time to exercise. Incorporate more physical activity into your day by making small changes. Walk out to get the mail instead of sending someone else. Engage in a little light house cleaning. Any time an opportunity to move presents itself, take it. These small bursts of activity will help immensely.
Exercise and physical activity can make your heart stronger and improve the symptoms of heart failure. If your doctor wants you to start an exercise routine, you should. You will enjoy a much higher quality of life if you can remain active for a longer period of time. Talk to a doctor at Temecula Valley Cardiology for more tips.