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How to Stay Fit When You Have a Heart Condition

Taking good care of your cardio fitness is something that can offer health benefits to everybody; however, it can become more complicated when you already have a heart condition. While regular exercise can help keep your heart healthy, you need to avoid pushing things too far if you have already had a cardiac episode, or have been diagnosed with a heart problem. 

The key here is to consider other kinds of exercise that do not cause a big jump in heart activity as a bigger part of your fitness routine and to make sure that you perform the milder cardio that you do within the parameters advised by your doctor. You may also want to get a medical alert system so that you can work out knowing that if there are any incidents involving your heart, people will be notified and help will come immediately. You can learn more about the devices available and read a review of Life Alert's cost here.

So, what are some things to consider when looking at how you can keep up your fitness after being diagnosed with a heart condition?

Strength and Muscle

There are lots of ways that you can exercise and improve your body without causing the strain on your heart that comes with high-intensity cardio. You may need to consider changing the balance of how you exercise so that more focus is placed on strength, core training, and flexibility rather than on intense cardio. This will allow you to spend as much time working out as you want and feel all of the usual benefits, but without the risks that pushing your heart rate into the high intensity or even moderate-intensity ranges can present when you have an existing heart issue. Everybody who is serious about their fitness should have some balance between cardio and strength training anyway, but now you should be looking to shift your main efforts more towards slower exercises that work on strength, posture and core stability, like weight lifting, Pilates, and yoga.

STEADY-STATE CARDIO

You will, of course, want to do some kind of cardio to help keep your heart problem from getting worse or even to improve your heart. This needs to be done in full agreement with your doctor, however, and you'll need to do it cautiously, stopping as soon as you experience any warning signs at all. Focusing on steady-state cardio in the less intense ranges is the best approach because this means that your heart will get a mild and sustained workout that doesn't involve heavy spikes in heart rate or blood pressure. You can consider walking, swimming, cycling, a low impact dance or aerobics workout, or anything else with a focus on the steady-state cardio exercise at a low intensity. Things like interval training are not well suited to you at this time, so look for things you can enjoy doing at a consistent intensity throughout a longer workout.

MONITOR YOURSELF

Whatever kind of exercise you do, you are going to be a bit more aware of your own reaction to exercise now, and a lot more conservative when you stop. If you were formerly someone who would keep pushing themselves until they needed to collapse on the floor and recover for a minute before going at it again, then you're going to need to notice the lesser signs that come before full exhaustion of that kind and stop much sooner. A heart rate monitor can be a good asset here, but also make sure you notice things like dizziness or shortness of breath as signals to stop or go less intensely, rather than accepting them as a part of the exercise as you might have done in the past.

These are a few things to think about when it comes to staying fit after learning you have a heart issue.

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