Being given a second chance can make you look at life differently. Regular physical activity can help the heart work better and make it stronger. Everyone needs to be active to stay healthy, but being physically active after you’ve had problems with your heart can be a little daunting. Just remember that a regular amount of moderate-intensity exercise is good for both the mind and body. When it comes to heart health and exercise you won’t get all the benefits immediately and you need to build up slowly and go at your own pace!
It’s all about baby steps and easing yourself back in to being active – you can gradually increase your level of activity over time and some activity is better than none.
Before getting started talk to your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation team about what activity you can do and when you should start doing things again. You may have already started on an exercise program while in hospital or have been given a plan to follow, so just keep up the good work when you get home!
How soon is too soon?
It usually takes a couple of weeks before most people are ready to try a little gentle activity. A few simple home exercises and stretches can be an ideal way to ease yourself back into being more active again – go at your own pace, start slow and build up gradually.
When you’re ready, try gradually walking for longer distances. Start off with walking on flat ground and then try walking uphill – but don’t overexert yourself.
By taking small steps, just walking around the house or to the end of the garden at first and then gradually building up the distance – in a couple of months you might be able to walk 20-30 minutes each day.
Staying active and staying motivated can get a bit tough sometimes. Keeping a diary can be helpful and allows you to keep track of what you have been doing and how far you have come! It’s also a good way of keeping an eye on things and making sure you are not overdoing it. You can also use it to show your doctor or nurse what you have been doing.
Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable – especially if you do something with friends or family. It’s a great way to feel better, improve your heath… and have fun. Once you are ready you don’t have to stick with just walking… you can garden, take dance lessons, swim or go cycling…whatever you enjoy doing best.
Being more active is all about building more regular activity in to your daily life – so any activity such as walking to the shops, taking the stairs or doing housework all count!
Regular short periods of physical activity are best, rather than trying to get all your exercise done in one strenuous workout. You can even breakdown the recommended ‘30 minutes a day’ in to smaller 10 minutes activities if that helps. Don’t stress about being active – if you are feeling particularly tired or unwell take some time off to recover.
When it comes to being active take it at your own pace, talk to your doctor about what is right for you and chose something you enjoy doing. After speaking to your doctor and when you feel ready, try to build up to 30 minutes of physical activity everyday.