Skip to content

    Heart Disease Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Congenital Heart Defects: Exercise and Sports - Topic Overview

    Children and adults with congenital heart defects can be active and get regular exercise. Most don't have exercise restrictions. But restrictions on the intensity or type of exercise might be needed depending on the type or severity of the defect.

    Being active helps keep your heart and body healthy. So even a person who has restrictions can still exercise within limits. Your doctor can help create a set of activities at a level that is safe and healthy for you or your child.1 Your doctor might also suggest target heart rate goals and limits, how long to exercise, and how often to exercise.2

    Recommended Related to Heart Disease

    6 Symptoms of Women's Heart Attacks

    When a heart attack strikes, it doesn’t always feel the same in women as it does in men. Women don't always get the same classic heart attack symptoms as men, such as crushing chest pain that radiates down one arm. Those heart attack symptoms can certainly happen to women, but many experience vague or even “silent” symptoms that they may miss. These six heart attack symptoms are common in women: Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women...

    Read the 6 Symptoms of Women's Heart Attacks article > >

    Restrictions on exercise

    Your doctor can tell you if you or your child should limit activity or sports participation. Limits might be based on the severity and type of heart defect.

    Many people with mild or repaired heart defects don't have exercise restrictions. They usually can take part in most types of sport or exercise.

    People who have a severe defect, a cyanotic defect, heart pumping problems, or heart rhythm problems might have exercise restrictions. But they can still be active. Their doctors can help create exercise plans to stay healthy and enjoy a good quality of life.

    Tests before exercise

    Anyone with a heart defect should check with a doctor before starting an exercise or sports program.

    Often a stress test EKG (a type of electrocardiogram) is done to find out the effect of exercise on the heart. This test is sometimes done along with a type of echocardiogram to measure how the heart responds to exercise.

    Children

    Some children who have a heart defect will have an exercise stress test done by the time they are in school. As your child ages and is interested in new sports or more intense exercise, you can review the exercise plan with your child's doctor and make sure that it's still right for your child.

    Adults

    At your regular checkup with your doctor, review your exercise plan to make sure that it fits your life and is safe and healthy for you.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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.
    1
    Next Article:

    Congenital Heart Defects: Exercise and Sports Topics

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
     
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
     
    empty football helmet
    Article
    red wine
    Video
     
    eating blueberries
    Article
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Slideshow
     
    Inside A Heart Attack
    SLIDESHOW
    Omega 3 Sources
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Salt Shockers
    SLIDESHOW
    lowering blood pressure
    SLIDESHOW