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Exercise for a Healthy Heart

(continued)

How Can I Avoid Overdoing Exercise?

Here are a few guidelines to keep yourself from doing too much exercise or exercising too vigorously:

  • Gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly.
  • Wait at least one and a half hours after eating a meal before exercising.
  • When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow your fluid restriction guidelines.
  • Take time to include a five-minute warm-up, including stretching exercises, before any aerobic activity and include a five- to 10-minute cool-down after the activity. Stretching can be done while standing or sitting.
  • Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to still talk during the activity.
  • Keep an exercise record.

How Can I Stick With Exercise?

  • Have fun! Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick with it if you enjoy the activity. Here are some questions you can think about before choosing a routine:
  • What physical activities do I enjoy?
  • Do I prefer group or individual activities?
  • What programs best fit my schedule?
  • Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
  • What goals do I have in mind? (For example, losing weight, strengthening muscles, or improving flexibility)
  • Schedule exercise into your daily routine. Plan to exercise at the same time every day (such as in the mornings when you have more energy). Add a variety of exercises so that you do not get bored. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle.
  • Find an exercise "buddy." This will help you stay motivated.

Also, exercise does not have to put a strain on your wallet. Avoid buying expensive equipment or health club memberships unless you are certain you will use them regularly.

General Workout Tips for People With Heart Failure

If you have heart failure:

  • Be sure any exercise is paced and balanced with rest.
  • Avoid isometric exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups. Isometric exercises involve straining muscles against other muscles or an immovable object.
  • Don't exercise outdoors when it is too cold, hot, or humid. High humidity may cause you to tire more quickly; extreme temperatures can interfere with circulation, make breathing difficult, and cause chest pain. Better choices are indoor activities such as mall walking.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days. But, be careful not to drink too much water. Follow your doctor's guidelines about how much fluid you can have in a day.
  • Extremely hot and cold showers or sauna baths should be avoided after exercise. These extreme temperatures increase the workload on the heart.
  • Steer clear of exercise in hilly areas. If you must walk in steep areas, make sure you slow down when going uphill to avoid working too hard. Monitor your heart rate closely.
  • If your exercise program has been interrupted for a few days (for example, due to illness, vacation, or bad weather), make sure you ease back into the routine. Start with a reduced level of activity, and gradually increase it until you are back where you started.

WebMD Medical Reference

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