The benefits of physical exercise for better heart health cannot be emphasised enough. Exercising strengthens the heart muscles, helps regulate blood pressure, and increases the efficiency of the heart to pump blood throughout the body. That’s why exercising is highly recommended for patients diagnosed with a heart condition. However, the extent and frequency of exercising will depend on the condition of the heart. Patients who have recently suffered a heart attack or have undergone a surgery need to be extremely cautious before starting an exercise routine again, as it can be strenuous and could worsen their condition.
Here are some tips to help implement safe exercising if you are diagnosed with a heart condition.
1. Consult your doctor:
Before you begin, it is imperative for you to discuss a few things with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether it is the right time for you to start exercising, how much you should exercise in a week, and what exercises you should begin with, depending on your condition. “The key is to keep the exercise routine balanced and calculated, and increase the intensity or duration gradually over a period of time,” explains Dr Sundeep Mishra, Cardiologist at AIIMS.
2. Start with simple exercises:
“There are different types of exercises: isotonic, isometric and stretching exercises. Isotonic exercises may include walking, jogging and swimming. These exercises involve a larger group of muscles and have an overall impact on your body. Walking is probably the simplest isotonic exercise you can start with initially. Slowly and steadily, you can increase the number of steps you walk in a day”, he suggests.
3. Avoid strenuous exercises:
Isometric exercises are static in nature and they may involve maintaining or increasing resistance on the muscle. These exercises can put extra pressure on the heart muscles and can trigger signs like chest pain, thereby increasing your risk of a heart attack. Dr. Mishra suggests that patients who have already suffered a heart attack should strictly avoid these exercises, irrespective of their recovery process.
4. Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures:
Another important aspect is to avoid exercising in extreme weather conditions. “Extreme humidity and extreme cold, both are not good for heart patients. Humidity can cause immediate exhaustion and dehydration, while cold can interfere with your breathing. It’s safer to exercise indoors, but that also only when the temperature is controlled,” he says.
5. Stay hydrated:
Dehydration during exercising can be extremely dangerous for heart patients. “Patients should drink a sufficient amount of water; lime juice can be a good substitute,” he says.
6. Know when to stop:
No matter how long you have been practising your exercise routine, listen to your body. If anything does not feel normal or comfortable while exercising, stop immediately. Breathlessness, cold sweats, increased thirst, dizziness, chest pain, pounding heartbeat and anxiety are all alarming signs. If you experience any of them, inform your doctor before resuming.
7. Don’t forget to cool down:
Once you are done exercising, don’t directly resume your daily activities. Perform some cool-down exercises and simple stretches with deep breathing to bring your heart rate to a resting state.