Exercising with heart failure
Flexibility and balance
Examples of workouts
Exercise and supplements
|Specific Resistance Exercises|
|Exercise||Primary Muscle Group||Secondary Muscle Group|
|Pushups of all kinds||Chest||Shoulders, Triceps|
|Tricep Dips||Chest, Triceps||Shoulders|
|Chest Dips||Chest, Triceps||Shoulders|
|Super Crunches||Stomach (Abs)||Neck|
|Leg Raises||Stomach , especially lower stomach (belly area)||Hip flexors, thighs|
|Hyperextensions||Lower Back||Neck, Stomach|
|Calf Raises||Calves||Tibials (front of lower legs)|
If you have easy access to a pool, exercising in water is good. I recommend taking a class at your local YMCA first so you know how to do specific routines like water aerobics. Trying to swim for a set amount of time is more than most CHFers can do. Please do not do this alone - if you hurt yourself or have a heart event during your workout, you could literally drown, and a phone is not usually at hand.
Since in-the-water workouts build both strength and endurance, don't also lift weights. Your muscles will not properly recover and you will just get tired. If you want to also lift weights, walking is the best endurance exercise (yes, it's better than cycling for people with heart failure).
Water workouts are usually considered more fun than lifting weights. If done at a YMCA or gym, you'll have company while exercising. However, many out-of-shape people don't like wearing a swim suit in front of other people. Another advantage is that you don't have to schedule both resistance and endurance training since this takes the place of both.
Disadvantages include the hassle of getting to and from the pool, and that it will not build strength as well as weight training.
Isometric training is making one muscle group resist another muscle group instead of weights; you hold the contraction position ("flex" or "positive") for at least several seconds. Old-timers will know this as the "Charles Atlas" muscle building routine.
It works just fine for healthy people but it's a tremendously bad idea for anyone with heart failure! The problem is that holding a contraction interferes with breathing and spikes (raises) pressures in the heart and blood vessels very quickly. Please do not do isometrics of any kind.
However, some isometric exercisers can be effectively used - as long as you don't hold the contraction. Use them just like weights, in sets of repetitions. You can do the exercises in the instructions that come with the exerciser, just do not hold the contractions ("flex") or do any unusual breathing routines.
One example of an isometric exerciser that can be used for sets and reps is the Bullworker - see this page. One advantage is the lower price of the equipment, since you don't have to buy weight plates. Another advantage is that very little floor space is needed to do your resistance training.
The main disadvantage is that this will not gain you as much strength and muscle growth as weight training over time. That may not matter, depending on your goals.
Rubber bands come in many forms and are sometimes called "bungees." Some hook onto the top or bottom of a closed door, some are more "free-style." Some include pulleys to allow a wider variety of exercises. As long as they are sturdy enough to work as advertised, rubber band systems will give you a decent resistance workout.
Remember never to hold a "contraction!" Use these bands in sets of slow reps just like weights. Advantages include needing less floor space and lower price. Again, the main disadvantage is that these will not increase your strength as much as weights over time.
I do not recommend Bowflex (Nautilus) style equipment. They don't allow as full a range of motion as weights, the equipment is expensive, and it's harder to use. These are really just high-tech rubber band systems. Weights will get you better results and allow you more flexibility in designing your workouts.
All information on this site is opinion only. All concepts, explanations, trials, and studies have been re-written in plain English and may contain errors. I am not a doctor. Use the reference information at the end of each article to search MedLine for more complete and accurate information. All original copyrights apply. No information on this page should be used by any person to affect their medical, physical, legal, educational, social, or psychological treatment in any way. I am not a doctor. This web site and all its pages, graphics, and content copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Jon C.