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Heart Disease: Exercising for a Healthy Heart

When you have coronary artery disease, it is very important to exercise regularly. If you aren't already active, your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor about taking part in a cardiac rehab program. Rehab can help you be more active and make lifestyle changes that can lead to a stronger heart and better health.

Even if you can only do a small amount of exercise, it is better than not doing any exercise at all.

  • Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Your doctor may do an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and possibly an exercise stress test to assess how much activity your heart can safely handle.
  • After you start exercising, stop your activity immediately if you experience chest pain, feel faint or lightheaded, or become extremely out of breath.
  • Start an exercise program, such as walking, cycling, or jogging. Try to do moderate activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Aim for a goal to exercise for at least 2½ hours a week.
  • Exercise can help lower the chance of a heart attack.
  • A complete exercise program consists of aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching.
  • Set goals you can reach. If you expect too much, you are likely to become discouraged and stop exercising.

what.gif  What do I need to know about exercise and coronary artery disease?
why.gif Why do I need a regular exercise program?
how.gif How can I get started on an exercise program?
where.gif Where to go from here

Citations

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.

  2. Haskell WL, et al. (2007). Physical activity and public health: Updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 116(9): 1081–1093.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised April 6, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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