Exercise and Heart Failure

Unless your heart failure is severe, you will most likely be told to do some exercise. Exercise can be very helpful if you have heart failure. This may sound confusing if you have been told you have to rest a lot and not get tired. The idea is to exercise to keep the body strong, but avoid overworking the heart. You want to find the right balance between exercise and rest for yourself.

Some moderate exercises you can do are:

  • Riding a stationary bicycle
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming

Be sure your Doctor or Nurse has given you an exercise program. Do not begin exercising without talking with your Doctor or Nurse first.

If you are not used to exercising, you might start with 5 to 15 minutes of easy exercise. Rest as often as you need to, so you will not get tired or out of breath. A goal might be to build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3 to 5 times a week. But if you can’t do this much, any amount of exercise is helpful. Ask your nurse to give you a plan.


Tips for exercising safely:

  • The best time to exercise is about 1 hour after eating or taking your medicines
  • You may want to involve your family or a friend in your exercising
  • It is important to warm up before you begin your exercises and cool down and stretch after you exercise
  • Stay away from strenuous exercises and avoid lifting heavy things
  • You should not exercise in extreme heat or cold. It’s best to exercise when the temperature is between 40 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 degrees to 26 degrees Celcius
  • Start slowly and work up gradually
  • Set realistic goals
  • Note how tired you are each day

If you are too tired to get out of bed the next day, you need to reduce the amount of exercise you do. Stop the activity if you have any:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath that is abnormal for you
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Call your Nurse if the symptoms don’t get better