The Heart Truth: You need exercise for a healthy heart

An inactive lifestyle is the biggest cause of heart disease. Fortunately, this is something we have control over.

Regular exercise can help with:

  • Strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Improving muscle tone and strength
  • Strengthening bones
  • Improving oxygen circulation
  • Increasing your stamina
  • Weight control
  • Reducing stress, tension, anxiety and depression
  • Improving sleep

Besides all these benefits, regular exercise can help you dodge a heart attack and potentially save your life.

A structured, supervised exercise program can improve your health and the quality of your life. ALWAYS check with your doctor before you start exercising, especially if you have any medical conditions and / or take prescription medications.

How to exercise safely

Aerobic exercise is generally recommended, gradually working up to 20-30 minutes at least 3-4 times/week. You can then work your way up to regular daily exercise.

Call our clinic and we’ll get you started on the right exercise plan for you and help you work your way up to a safe, effective exercise program.

Include a warm-up and a cool-down to your exercise routine.

Warm-up helps your body to raise its core temperature to prepare to exercise. As a result, your heart can function more effectively and muscles are more pliable and contract better. This decreases your chances of injury. When warming up, try stretching or starting out with 5-10 minutes at a lower intensity.

For best results, monitor your heart rate and intensity during exercise. If you’re not sure how to monitor these factors and pace yourself, call our clinic to schedule an appointment and we will show you the right way to exercise.

Cool-down helps your body and heart recover from the workout. End your exercise with 5-10 minutes of decreased intensity of exercise (like walking).

Supervision and precautions

If you’ve experienced heart trouble or have had symptoms of heart failure, it’s critical for you to take some precautions when you exercise. In addition to getting exercise clearance from your doctor, you should exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist to maximise safety and effectiveness.

Don’t overdo it

Remember to PACE yourself and rest when needed.

Avoid extreme hot or cold

If it’s too cold, hot, or humid outdoors, it’s best to exercise indoors. Extreme temperature can affect circulation and make you tired (or short of breath) fairly quickly. Avoid extreme hot and cold showers, or sauna baths, especially after exercise. These extreme temperatures increase the workload on the heart.

Steer clear of exercise in hilly areas

If you must walk in steep areas, make sure you slow down when going uphill to avoid working too hard. Monitor your heart rate closely.

Stick to routine

If your exercise program has been interrupted for more than a few days (illness, vacation or bad weather), make sure you ease back into the routine. Start with a reduced level of activity, and gradually increase it until you get back in the groove.

Stop exercise if you experience any of the following symptoms of overload:

  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained weight gain or swelling (call your doctor right away)
  • Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder
  • Anything else that concerns you

If you continue to exercise despite these warning signs, you may be causing too much stress on your heart. If your symptoms persist, call your doctor.

Your heart is critical to your long term health. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to seek the expert supervision of a physiotherapist to create or change your exercise program. This will allow your heart to function more effectively and improve the quality of your life.

Quick tip

Don’t sit if you can stand. If you can stand comfortably, you will burn more calories doing so than if you were to sit.


Hear your heart. Heart your health.

~ Faith Seehill

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