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Staying Active with Heart Disease
As you age, you’re naturally at a higher risk of health problems like heart disease and heart failure. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you may shy away from physical activity out of fear that it will put more stress on your heart. However, staying active can strengthen your heart muscles and help reduce some of heart disease’s symptoms, like chest pain.
Always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. They will make sure that the kinds of physical activity you want to participate in are safe for you. This is especially important if you:
- Recently had a heart attack
- Have chest pain or pressure, or shortness of breath
- Have diabetes
- Recently had a heart procedure or surgery
Once your doctor gives approval, start slowly and pace yourself, especially if you haven’t been active lately. Start with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming. Be sure to always stretch and warm up before exercising.
Don’t push yourself too hard—if you feel tired, take a break. If you have any heart symptoms, such as dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat or pulse, or nausea, stop what you’re doing. Contact your doctor immediately or call 911 if you:
- Feel pain, pressure, tightness, or heaviness in your chest, arm, neck, or jaw
- Have shortness of breath
- Have gas pains or indigestion
- Experience numbness in your arms
- Lose color in your face
Heart-Healthy Physical Activities
Staying active can strengthen your heart and reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 50%. Aim to get 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Try these activities to keep your heart health on the right track:
- Aquatic exercise. Water activities, including water aerobics and lap swimming, can improve your blood pressure, heart rate, circulation, and breathing. These exercises are a good way to start small and work toward improving your heart health.
- Weightlifting. If cardio isn’t your favorite activity, you’ll be happy to know that weightlifting can also strengthen your heart. Strength training exercises increase blood flow and circulation, which reduces pressure on your arteries. This can lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Choose a dumbbell weight that’s heavy enough to do eight to 12 repetitions comfortably, but still feels like a challenge. If you choose a dumbbell that’s too heavy, your muscles and joints may be sore. Ask your doctor what an appropriate dumbbell weight is for you.
- Group exercise classes. You can fit in both social and physical activity with one of Grand Oaks’ group exercise classes. We offer everything from Tai Chi to ballroom dancing and range-of-motion classes. These classes allow you to move at your own pace while motivating you to stay active.
- Walking. Moderate intensity walking can improve balance, circulation, and cardiovascular health, lower stress levels, and reduce feelings of anxiety. In fact, walking just 30 minutes per day can reduce the risk of stroke by 20%. Be sure to take proper safety precautions and always tell someone where you will be exercising, in case of an emergency.
- Flexibility workouts. Stretching doesn’t directly contribute to your heart health, but it benefits your musculoskeletal health, which allows you to stay flexible and free from joint pain and cramping. Having a good musculoskeletal foundation enables you to participate in exercises that directly benefit your heart health. Having good flexibility and balance also helps prevent falls that can cause injuries.
At Grand Oaks, you can find physical activities that fit your ability and interests, including walking club, aquatic exercise, and more. Grand Oaks offers many activities to keep seniors socially, mentally, and physically healthy. To learn more, schedule a tour today.