Loading Results
We have updated our Online Services Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. See our Cookies Notice for information concerning our use of cookies and similar technologies. By using this website or clicking “I ACCEPT”, you consent to our Online Services Terms of Use.

Is It Safe for People With Heart Disease to Exercise?

Share
Facebook
X
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Print
Smiling man looking away with male friends in background at exercise class

Most people know that exercise is important for your health. But for people with heart disease, questions about safety can raise concerns. Will exercise increase their heart rate too much? How much and what type of exercise is safe?

“The vast majority of individuals with heart disease can safely exercise, but it depends on the specific heart issue,” says University Hospitals sports cardiologist Bradley Lander, MD. “The same goes for individuals with a family history of heart disease.”

Basic Tips for Safe Exercise

Because there are so many types of heart conditions, it’s important to talk with your doctor or cardiologist to determine what exercise or activity level is safe for you. The intensity, frequency and type of exercise may vary depending on the exact heart condition. Dr. Lander offers these tips for exercising with heart disease or a family history of heart issues:

  • Movement is good. Overall, staying active is good for people with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.
  • Activity can be simple. The activity can be as simple as walking, taking the stairs, doing exercises while sitting in a chair or on the couch, or using light hand weights with repetitions.
  • Start slowly. Those who have never exercised before or haven’t exercised in a long time should start slowly and at a low intensity.
  • Gradually increase. If your cardiologist says it’s okay to increase your exercise routine, gradually work toward a more intense or longer exercise session.

What Should You Discuss with Your Doctor Before Exercising?

“Just because you or a loved one has a cardiac condition doesn’t mean you can’t exercise,” says Dr. Lander. “Many people who have been told they can’t exercise are surprised to find out they can when they’re carefully evaluated by the right person – a medical professional who can provide sound advice on the type, intensity, risks and benefits of activity and exercise.”

If you have a family history or are at risk for heart disease, talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you have heart disease, talk with your cardiologist. Dr. Lander recommends you ask the following questions.

  • How serious is my heart condition?
  • Are there limitations to the types or intensity of physical exercise for my condition?
  • Will exercise make my condition better?
  • Does exercise have the potential to make my condition worse?
  • If you have a medical procedure for your condition: How long should I wait before I can exercise?

Warning Signs to Watch For

Some warning signs that you need to stop your physical activity and seek medical care include:

  • Chest pain or chest pressure with exertion or physical activity
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw or arm
  • Nausea or unusual sweating with low level exercise
  • Unusual shortness of breath that is not proportionate to your exercise intensity
  • Passing out/losing consciousness is a red flag, especially when it occurs with exercise.

Visit the ER for any of these symptoms. For less serious symptoms, you should talk with your doctor.

Related Links

Sports cardiologists specialize in cardiovascular care for people with heart disease, as well as recreational athletes and avid exercisers. University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute is dedicated to providing the highest quality care for all patients. Learn more.

Share
Facebook
X
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Print
Subscribe
RSS