Exercising When Your Heart’s Not Healthy

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Whether you have heart disease, atrial fibrillation or cardiomyopathy, it is highly likely that exercise will only be of benefit to you. Understandably, you might be hesitant to workout, worrying that your heart will give out on you, but actually, as long and you are careful, exercise is likely to strengthen your heart and aid your recovery.

If you want to know how to live dealing with afib or any other heart condition, check out these great tips for exercising when your heart’s not healthy:

Talking to Your Doctor

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Before you even think about strapping on your running shoes or lifting those heavy weights at the gym, you need to have a full and frank discussion with your doctor. Let him, or her know that you would like to start exercising and ask them to recommend a safe plan for you.

Chances are your doctor will be delighted that you are taking positive steps to improve the health of your heart, and the rest of your body and they will work with you to find safe solutions.

Before you get started, your doctor might want to give you an echocardiogram of stress test to see how your heart is doing. They may also want to switch your medications to make exercise easier for you. This is standard procedure, and you should not worry about it – it’s all being done to support you with your new fitness regime.

Working Out with Heart Problems

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Here are some things you should and should not do when you are dealing with serious heart problems, including heart failure:

Don’t…do too many isometric exercises such as situps and pushups. These kinds of exercises can strain the muscles against each other or other objects, which could put an undue amount of stress on your heart.

Don’t…go out in the cold. When you exercise outdoors in very cool conditions, or even in conditions that are very hot and humid, your circulation could be affected, and this could have an impact on your heart’s ability to work properly, causing chest pains or worse. When the temperatures are extreme, do what you can to exercise indoors instead.

Do…stay hydrated. When you’re exercising, you sweat a lot, which could lead to you becoming dehydrated and that would put a strain on your body. Combat this by taking regular sips of water as you exercise.

Do…ease into it. When you are first starting a new exercise regime, and when you’ve had a few days off, and you want to start again, you absolutely must ease into it. If you push ahead after a period of inactivity, you will put more pressure on your heart, which could cause you problems.

Warning Signs

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When you are exercising, there are some warning signs, which if experienced, you should stop what you are doing and seek medical advice immediately. They include:


If you become very fatigued when exercising, chances are that you are pushing yourself too hard and this is something that you should not really be doing when you have a serious heart problem.

Shortness of Breath

If you are finding it difficult to breathe, your heart could be under too much stress. St=op what you are doing and make an appointment with your physician to discuss the issue immediately.


If you are feeling, or have very recently been, ill, you should wait until a few days after all of your symptoms have subsided to start exercising again. Exercising when you’re ill and you have a heart problem is asking for trouble. If you’re in doubt about whether it’s safe to exercise or not, as always, consult your doctor.


If you start to get palpitations or your heart starts to beat in a rapid or irregular way, stop what you are doing and check your pulse after 15 minutes of inactivity. If your resting pulse is over 120 beats per minute, you will need to see your doctor immediately.


If you feel pain anywhere in your body, you should not ignore it; this is doubly important if the pain is experienced in your chest area.


If you pass out when exercising, as soon as you wake up, take yourself to the hospital to be checked out.

It can also be a good idea to, where possible, exercise with a partner so that if you are taken ill, they can get the help you need quickly. Talk to them about the common signs and symptoms you are in trouble, and they’ll be able to look out for you as you get fit. Exercising with a  buddy is also a great way to boost your willpower and ensure you don’t fall off the wagon.

Other Issues

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Of course, exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to healing from or managing heart problems and making your body as strong and healthy as it can be. You also need to think about the food you eat.

Eating less red meat, junk food and processed products will give your heart a huge boost. Replace bad foods with good whole grains, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and you will feel better than ever before.

Managing your stress levels will also help you to keep your blood pressure low so that your heart doesn’t have to work quite so hard. Meditation is very good for relaxing and destressing after a difficult day and doing it even for 10 minutes will make a real difference to how you feel.

I am not a doctor, and although this advice has all been checked out, you should ALWAYS see a doctor before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle. By doing so, you can ensure that you go about things in the safest way possible.

If you experience any signs or symptoms of trouble, including pain in the chest, arms, and jaw, dizziness or any of the other issues mentioned in this post, you really should see a doctor as soon as possible just in case.


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