Have a thorough exam before starting any exercise
program. Your doctor may do an
electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) and possibly a stress
ECG test to assess what level of activity your heart can handle.
Make a list of questions to discuss with your doctor. Do this
before your appointment. For some general questions, see the
exercise planning sheet(What is a PDF document?).
Make an exercise plan together with your
doctor. An exercise program usually consists of stretching, activities that
increase your heart rate (aerobic exercise), and strength training (lifting
light weights). Visit a library or bookstore for information on exercise
programs. Join a health club, walking group, or YMCA. Many cities have senior
centers that offer inexpensive exercise programs.
Learn how to
check your heart rate. See
taking a pulse. Your doctor can tell you how fast your pulse (target heart rate)
should be when you exercise.
Start out slowly. Try parking farther
away from the store or walk the mall before shopping. Over time, you will
increase your ability to do more.
Keep a record of your daily
exercise. It is okay to skip a day now and then or to cut back on your exercise
if you are too tired or not feeling well.
Four ways to build exercise success
Set realistic goals. If you expect too much,
you are likely to become discouraged and stop exercising.
yourself time. It can take months to get into the habit of exercising. After a
few months, you may find that you are looking forward to it.
with it. It can be hard to follow an exercise plan. Try exercising with a
friend-it is much easier to continue an exercise program if you are exercising
with someone else.
Reward yourself. Build in rewards along the way
that help you continue your program.
Precautions when starting an exercise program
starting an exercise program, keep the following precautions in mind:
The heart has four areas, or chambers. During each heartbeat, the two upper chambers (atria) contract, followed by the two lower chambers (ventricles). This is directed by the heart's electrical system.
The electrical impulse begins in an area called the sinus node, located in the right atrium. When the sinus node fires, an impulse of electrical activity spreads through the right and left atria, causing them to contract, forcing blood into the ventricles.
Then the electrical impulses travel in...