Read This First!
If you have any of the following conditions, talk to your doctor before starting work outs.
- People with implanted devices - ICDs or pacemakers;
- People who have arrhythmias or think they have arrhythmias - abnormal heart rhythms;
- People with lung disease or pulmonary hypertension;
- People with arthritis;
- People with diabetes;
- People with back, knee, or hip problems;
- People who are obese - very overweight.
Who Should Do What Exercises?
I believe that CHFers should increase their flexibility and balance first. Then use resistance training (with or without weights) to increase your strength. Then work for endurance.
- Increasing flexibility, mobility, and balance:
- This makes you feel better every day. It makes basics easier - like standing, walking, bending, carrying, and getting in and out of chairs and cars.
- Increasing strength:
- Getting things in and out of cabinets, doing housework and yardwork, doing laundry, loading and unloading your car with stuff, even brushing your teeth and taking a shower - all require strength and a good grip. Resistance training also improves your heart failure. Do resistance training without weights for a few months, then you may want to try weight training.
- Increasing endurance:
- Over time, better endurance will let your periods of activity be longer and more productive. Your sleep will improve. Your mood will be more positive. Your heart function may also improve. Your endothelium will function better. Also, your risk of death is lower.
Tips Before You Start
- Know your limitations
- Don't go crazy with lots of exercise right away. You won't last. If you have pain from old injuries or a physical condition, adjust your exercise techniques to reduce stress on those areas. If your heart class is poor, be realistic setting your goals. Look for small gains. The idea here is to feel better.
- Start slowly
- The main reason people quit exercising is they start fast so it makes them feel bad. Then they decide it doesn't "work" for them. Set modest goals and stick with it.
- Increase slowly
- Ramping up too fast once you've started will make you feel bad and give up.
- Bad days
- Do some exercise if possible. With weights, cut the weight by 80% (so you're only using 1/5th the usual weight) but do the same number of reps if you can. With walking, reduce the speed by about 1/3 and reduce the distance by 1/2, and try to get through that. It gives a great sense of accomplishment.
- Good days
- Don't get carried away on a good day. It will catch up with you one to three days later.
- When you make your body work hard, it needs recovery. Exercising all the time gets you nowhere. You have to take time off to recover.
- Not enough money for equipment
- It's hard to get to a mall for walking every day, and walking outside in the weather is a bad idea with heart failure. If you can't afford a motorized treadmill, look at garage sales. If you can't afford one at sales, think about walking every other day or every third day at a mall.
For weights, 2 dumbbells with some weight plates will give you a very good start. Wal-Mart and similar stores have affordable equipment that works just fine.
- When you're away from home
- Use the hotel gym for your treadmill walking. For short trips of a few days, skip the weights. For longer trips, take along 2 dumbbells and some small weight plates and do a reduced workout every day. Do your core stability and stretching regardless of where you are.
- Diet and exercise
- Don't exercise for at least 30 minutes after eating. Eat fewer carbs. Avoid starchy foods like potatoes. You can eat as soon after exercise as you feel the need. Eat smaller portions, but eat more often if necessary. Low sodium is still the key to staying out of the hospital.
- Supplements and exercise
- I take quite a few supplements, but they aren't cheap. All the ones I take are also good for heart failure, regardless of exercise. See this page for more.
- Hitting a plateau (getting in a rut)
- You just can't go one minute more on the treadmill or add one stinking pound to your weights, even after months of trying. Take 2 days off, then reduce your treadmill speed or the number of exercises/sets on weights. You may need to add an extra day off to your routine. Start using different exercises to work the same muscles, which will work your muscles at different angles and shake them loose from that rut.
- Activity versus exercise
- They are not the same, and you need both. If you're exercising until you're too tired to do cooking and laundry, reduce your exercise. Activity uses muscles differently and your body needs it, so don't give up a hobby or housework in order to get in more "exercise." Striking the right balance can take as long as 6 months.
- If you work
- Don't knock yourself out with a big exercise routine if you are at a job every day! Work on flexibility and balance for a few months, then decide if you want to try more.
|Let's Get Started|
| Flexibility, mobility, and balance training pages start here |
| Resistance training page starts here |
| Weight training pages start here |
| Endurance training page starts here |
| Exercise equipment page starts here |
| Exercise and supplements page starts here |
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.