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Time is Muscle! Exercising After a Heart Attack

Suffering from a heart attack can be a wake-up call for a much-needed lifestyle change. Follow these tips for best practices on how to ease your way back into exercise after a heart attack or heart surgery.

Exercise with a Partner: When exercising for the first time after a major heart surgery or heart attack, there is the potential for fatigue or perhaps even pain. To avoid a dangerous situation, have someone you trust nearby, who can help in case you require help or rest. Plus, exercising with a friend is fun! Try going for a brisk walk or light bike ride. The company will make you feel like you aren’t actually exercising and will keep you motivated.

Know Your Limits: You may have previously been able to run a mile without a problem, but after a heart attack your energy levels and strength may be quite different. You may also be taking certain medications which can affect your body. Don’t let this discourage you. Set small, achievable goals for yourself each day and know when you need to rest. Pushing yourself too hard can cause more damage.

Warm Up and Cool Down: Even if you have not suffered a heart attack, preparing your body for exercise is incredibly important. Start your exercise routine with a light warm-up to get your heart rate up. This can reduce strain on your heart during the exercise. Follow your workout with a cool down to lower your heart rate gradually. Get yourself into the habit of both a warm-up and cool down when exercising. This will also help you to avoid injury, especially when it comes to your heart.

Exercises to Avoid: Avoid exercises that can be strenuous or are performed in extreme temperatures. Exercising in high heat or extreme cold can strain your heart and cause damage. This can include walking or running in freezing temperatures or high-temperature exercises such as hot yoga. As you begin to plan your exercise routine, start with brisk walking until you are ready to take on more vigorous activity.

Make a Plan: The best way to heal is to set an exercise routine that you can stick with. Exercises that get your blood pumping helps to maintain a healthy weight and strengthen one of your most important muscles, your heart. Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, or jogging can help to reduce hypertension, lower your stress levels, and regulate cholesterol. Start off with 10 minutes of light exercise each day for the first month and work your way to 30 minutes of exercise each day.