Being active with a heart condition

By Get Active

One of the questions we get asked most frequently is about exercising with a heart condition.

For many people, exercising with a heart condition may seem like a daunting prospect, but keeping active is one of the best things you can do to help get your fitness back and reduce your risk of further heart problems.

We’ve answered the most common questions below but always consult your GP if you have any concerns.

How much exercise should I do and how often?

We should all aim to do at least some physical activity every day.

Ideally, this would include at least 30 minutes of exercise that makes us a bit short of breath five times a week. A general rule of thumb is to exercise at a level where you’re still able to hold a conversation but feel warm and slightly breathless. This way your heart gets the benefits of exercise without the small increase in risk that can come from vigorous activity.

It’s also recommended that we spend 30 minutes a day on our feet – such as walking or climbing stairs.

I’m new to exercise – how do I get started?

It’s never too late to start keeping yourself fit; simply building on activities that you already do can make a difference.

Activities can be easily worked into your daily routine and require almost no equipment, such as walking.

You can get further advice and support about exercise from a GP, especially if you are on medication, or if you are a member of a gym, they may well have fitness instructors trained to a high standard who can give you good advice.

What is the best exercise to do if I have heart condition?

With a heart problem it can be hard to know how much to do when it comes to exercise. Starting small is best.

Start off by doing a small amount of gentle activity that’s in your comfort zone, and gradually increase the amount you do – both in terms of the time you spend exercising and the effort you put in. Gardening or walking the dog are good examples because they offer a range of activities so is suited to all fitness levels

Top tips for exercising with a heart condition

  • Stay well hydrated during exercising.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors when it is very hot or very cold.
  • Stop exercising if you experience any of the following: difficulty breathing, chest pain, light-headedness and fatigue. Discuss your symptoms with your GP

To find activity sessions near you, try a search on the Get Active activity finder