Does Exercise Help Congestive Heart Failure ?

Exercise During Heart Failure: Warming Up and Cooling Down

Does basic exercise help congestive heart failure? It is important to spend a few minutes warming up and cooling down before and after each activity session to avoid injuring yourself and stressing your heart.

Warming up helps your body and your heart adjust to the increased demands of the activity. It also stretches tendons and muscles to avoid cramping.

Cooling down allows your heart rate, blood pressure, and other body functions to return to their usual resting levels and brings down your adrenaline level gradually. Most of the problems that people exercising with heart failurehave related to activity occur when they stop the activity suddenly. and do not take the time to cool down slowly and correctly. People with congestive heart failure sometimes have lopwm energy, and they need to proceed with caution.

Does Exercise Help Congestive Heart Failure? Exercise During Heart Failure: Warming Up

Warming Up Spend 5 minutes warming up before you begin an activity or exercise program. One of the best warm-up exercises is to do your intended activity very slowly (that is if you are going to walk, walk slowly for the first 5 minutes; if you are going to ride a bike, pedal slowly without resistance for the first 5 minutes).

Some patients with congestive heart failure stretch before they exercise, but you should first discuss this with your healthcare provider, and they will suggest specific stretching exercises for you.

Exercise During Heart Failure: Cooling Down

The best way to cool down is to slowly decrease the intensity of the activity or exercise you are doing. For example, if you are walking, walk slowly for the last few minutes of your exercise session.

Never stop exercising suddenly and just sit, lie down, or stand still, unless you feel you have to. It can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. End your activity program by doing about 5 minutes of stretching exercises.

 Exercise During Heart Failure:  Tips and Guidelines

  •  As you build regular activity into your life, consider the following: n Get walking shoes that fit comfortably and have good support.
  • Do not exercise on either an empty or a full stomach.
  • Avoid activities or exercising outdoors when it is colder than 40°F or warmer than 80°F or on high smog days.
  • Always warm up and cool down with stretching and slow walking.
  • Start any activity at a slow and steady pace. n Do not hold your breath when walking, exercising, or doing any kind of physical activity.
  • Exercise or do your selected activity at the time of day when you feel most energetic. For most heart failure patients that is the morning.
  • The day after you are more active, you may feel more tired than usual. Although this is common, make sure you talk to your health care provider if this tiredness lasts longer than a day.
  • Consider being active with a partner. Studies have shown that people stick to their activity program and enjoy it more when they have a partner. n Make sure that you can carry on a conversation while you are doing any activity. If you cannot carry on a conversation, you are exercising too hard and need to slow down.

Conclusion

People with congestive heart failure can live fulfilling lives. As part of the treatment for heart failure, your doctor might suggest ways that you can live a healthier life. For instance, eating low-fat and low-sodium foods is important
for people with heart failure. Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation as part of your treatment plan. In
cardiac rehabilitation, you work with a team of healthcare experts that helps you recover.

References:

McMurray JJ. Clinical practice. Systolic heart failure. N Engl J Med. 2010 Jan 21;362(3):228–238.[PubMed]

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