All-Important Exercise

Being active every day is critical for everyone’s wellness—but especially so for people with heart failure. Regular exercise can lower your resting heart rate, which takes a load off your hardworking muscle.

Q Is all exercise the same?

Exercise can be divided into three basic types:

  • Cardiovascular or aerobic: steady physical activity using large muscle groups. This strengthens the heart and lungs, improving the body’s ability to use oxygen. Exercises include walking, jogging, bicycling and low-impact aerobics.
  • Strengthening: repeated muscle contractions (tightening) until the muscle becomes tired. Strength training involves lifting weights or using resistance to strengthen the skeletal muscles.
  • Flexibility: slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching after exercising helps reduce soreness for activity and prevent injury and muscle strain.

Q What should my exercise include?

There are three phases:

  • Warm-up (five minutes) helps your body adjust to exercise. It reduces the stress on your heart and muscles, slowly increasing your breathing, circulation (heart rate) and body temperature.
  • Conditioning (20–30 minutes) burns calories. You should monitor the intensity of your activity.
  • Cool-down (five minutes) allows your body to recover from conditioning. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting levels.

Q How often should I exercise?

Gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week. The American Heart Association recommends exercising most days of the week. The more exercise you can do, the better, but any amount is beneficial to your health.

Q How can I avoid overdoing it?

Keep these tips in mind:

  • It takes time. Gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly.
  • Warm up and cool down!
  • When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow any fluid-restriction guidelines from your doctor.
  • Wait at least 60–90 minutes after eating a meal before exercising.

Get Help Getting Started

Not sure where to begin? Ask your doctor for recommendations based on your level of fitness and physical condition. Or call Parrish Health & Fitness Center at 321-268-6200 and ask about Rx2getfit.