Exercise is an essential part of healthy living, and vital for effective recovery after any cardiac event. Being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease.
Exercise has so many benefits for your health and well-being. It lowers the risk of heart disease, including stroke. It can also reduce the risk of some types of cancer, and of type 2 diabetes.
Regular exercise has been shown to:
- improve the efficiency of the heart muscle
- improve blood circulation
- increase muscle strength and flexibility
- prevent muscle soreness and injury after exercise
- maintain a stable weight
- increase ‘good' cholesterol levels
- have positive effects on insulin resistance (use of sugars)
- protect from blood clotting
- aid healing
- promote a sense of well-being.
It is important that you start a regular routine that you will maintain for the rest of your life.
- Avoid exercising immediately after meals.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and supportive shoes.
- Avoid exercising in extremes of temperature or in strong winds.
- Do not exercise when feeling unwell with a fever or bad cold.
- Drink plenty of fluids before and after exercise.
- Avoid caffeine immediately before and after exercise.
The first step: start walking
An ideal way to begin is to follow a gentle walking program.
- aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, exercise classes
- recreational activities such as tennis or golf
- being as active as you can in your daily activities, e.g. taking the stairs instead of the lift.
You may like to add variety with swimming or cycling, or attending exercise classes as well as walking.
Work at a pace that you feel is moderately hard. You should be at about level 5 on the perceived exertion scale.
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 3–5 times a week. Ideally you should try to do something every day. If you can't exercise continuously, you can do shorter bouts throughout the day, or alternate between a light and moderately hard pace, allowing you to last the whole 30 minutes.
Remember to warm up and cool down.
- 10 minutes: slow walking (warm-up)
- 30 minutes: moderately hard walking
- 10 minutes: slow walking (cool-down)
- 5 minutes: stretching