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Heart Failure Health Center

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Heart Failure: Activity and Exercise

When you have heart failure, it's very important to exercise regularly. If you are not already active, your doctor may want you to start an exercise program.

Of course, what's safe for you depends on how bad your heart failure is. But even if you can only do a small amount of exercise, it's better than not doing any exercise at all.

  • Have a checkup before you start an exercise program. Your doctor probably will do an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) and maybe an exercise stress test to see how much activity your heart can safely handle.
  • Your doctor may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation ("rehab") program at a local hospital or clinic.
  • Start out slowly, exercising for only a few minutes at a comfortable rate. Then each day, slowly try to increase the length of time and the intensity of your workout.
  • You should not exercise during times when your heart failure is not under control.
  • Set goals that you can reach. If you expect too much, you are likely to get discouraged and stop exercising.

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

Citations

  1. Pina IL, et al. (2003). Exercise and heart failure: A statement from the American Heart Association Committee on Exercise, Rehabilitation, and Prevention. Circulation, 107(8): 1210–1225.

  2. 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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Last RevisedApril 26, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 26, 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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