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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Heart Failure: Activity and Exercise
When you have
heart failure, it's very important to exercise
regularly. If you are not already active, your doctor may want you to
start an exercise program.
what's safe for you depends on how bad your
heart failure is. But even if you can only do a small amount of
exercise, it's better than not doing any exercise at
Do not start exercising until you have
talked with your doctor to make an exercise program that is safe for you. Your program will likely include activities that you can do at least 3 to 5 times a
week.1 Aim for at least 2½ hours of
moderate exercise a week.2
One way to do this is to be active at least 10 minutes 3 times a day, 5 days a
Continue to Why?
Making exercise a routine is important, because it
takes only a short period without activity to weaken your muscles and your
Regular exercise also helps
reduce or improve:
Regular exercise will help me control my stress and
Regular exercise will help you control your
stress and depression.
Continue to How?
To get started:
I may need one or more tests before I start an
You may need one or more tests before you start
an exercise program. Anyone who has heart disease may need special
tests before starting an exercise program.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to plan the exercise program that suits you.
If you have
questions about this information, print it out and take it
with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to use a highlighter to mark
areas or make notes in the margins of pages where you have questions.
If you would like more information on heart failure, the
following resources are available:
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
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site was developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National
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the American Geriatrics Society provides independent review of some of the
material found on this website.
Return to topic:
Pina IL, et al. (2003). Exercise and heart failure: A statement from the American Heart Association Committee on Exercise, Rehabilitation, and Prevention. Circulation, 107(8): 1210–1225.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
April 26, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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