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Is Cardio Training Safe for Those Recovering From a Heart Attack or Stroke?

Is Cardio Training Safe for Those Recovering From a Heart Attack or Stroke?

The link between exercise and cardiovascular disease is a complicated one. After all, whenever a person exercises, your heart is working harder to pump blood throughout your body.

And for someone who is still recovering from a heart attack or a stroke, their heart might not still be able to function 100%.

So this must mean that exercise and cardiovascular disease don’t mix, right? Not exactly.

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How Safe is it to Work Out?

Exercise is very important to our health. In fact, people who exercise daily tend to be healthier and live longer than those who don’t. The same holds true even for those with cardiovascular problems, or for those who are still recovering from a heart attack or stroke.

It is normal for people who have had a heart attack to be afraid of straining their heart. After all, a heart attack can be a traumatic experience, and it is important for people who have had a heart attack to be more mindful about their health.

When it comes to exercise, it should be perfectly fine, so long as your doctor gives you the go-signal. In fact, exercise can actually lower the possibility of another heart attack.

Cardiac Rehab

Additionally, most hospitals also offer cardiac rehabilitation as a part of the treatment for heart attack patients. Cardiac rehabilitation is important since it helps strengthen your body, and speeds up your recovery.

When it comes to exercise and cardiovascular disease recovery, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. They can best guide you on what types of exercises are effective, as well as if there is anything you need to avoid or be careful of.

As always, if you feel pain, discomfort, or anything out of the ordinary during exercise, it would be best to stop as soon as possible. Exercise is important, but just like most things, it would be best to not overdo it.

exercise and cardiovascular disease

What Exercises Are Safe?

Here are some exercises that are safe for stroke and heart attack survivors to do:


Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do. The great thing about walking is that it is great for building strength, and you can gradually increase the duration of your exercise as you recover and get stronger.

When you are just starting out, you can walk for about three to four minutes, and then take a two-minute break before walking again. Over time, you should increase the duration of your exercise to 10 minutes, and up to 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

The great thing about walking is that you are using a lot of muscles in your body when you walk. You are not just using your leg muscles, but also your back and core muscles to keep you upright, and your arm muscles to keep your balance. This is a great way to build strength in your muscles as well as your heart.

You can also incorporate walking into your daily routine. Instead of driving to a nearby store, you can just walk and get some exercise in the process. You can even use walking as a warm-up to go to a nearby park to do other exercises.

All in all, walking is a great exercise that is relatively safe for heart attack and stroke survivors to do.

Going up and down the stairs

Another good exercise that you can do is to walk up and down the stairs. This exercise does not really need any special equipment, and all you need is a set of stairs.

It would be best to start slow, especially if you are still feeling a bit weak. It is also a good idea to hold on to the handrail to help keep your balance. Do not force yourself especially if you are just starting out and take breaks if you need to.

Over time, you should be able to go up and down the stairs without any trouble, and for an extended period of time. This is also a good idea to incorporate into your exercise routine along with walking.

If you work at an office, and your office is located on the lower floors, you can even try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This ensures that you get enough exercise daily, and you can keep your body strong and healthy.

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Strength Training

Strength training is another great form of exercise for people who are recovering from cardiovascular disease. People who have suffered a heart attack find that their muscles feel weak, and they are unable to do some things that they used to be able to do.

Strength training can help counteract this by building up muscle. You can start strength training by just lifting a few pounds and doing bicep curls. As you feel your strength coming back, you can incorporate other strength training exercises and gradually increasing the weight you are lifting.

It is important to not hold your breath while lifting weights as this can increase your blood pressure. Try to breathe normally when lifting weights, and avoid exerting yourself.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to exercise and cardiovascular disease recovery, the important thing to remember is that it needs to be a lifestyle change. A good way to approach it would be to use exercises that you enjoy, and that you can do every day. Ideally, these are exercises that you can do without any equipment and do not put a lot of strain on your body.

This way, it is much easier to incorporate it into your lifestyle and make it a lasting change. This can significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack in the future, and greatly improves your quality of life.

Learn more about Healthy Fitness here.



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Working Out Safely After a Heart Attack | Go Red for Women, https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/living-with-cardiovascular-disease/working-out-safely-after-a-heart-attack#:~:text=%E2%80%9CYou%20need%20to%20get%20sign,capacity%20back%20is%20through%20exercise.%E2%80%9D, Accessed July 13 2020

Exercising when you have heart disease | Heart and Stroke Foundation, https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/exercising-when-you-have-heart-disease, Accessed July 13 2020

Physical Activity Helps Prevent a Heart Attack and Stroke | Michigan Medicine, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw114892, Accessed July 13 2020

Exercise after heart attack may improve survival | American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/12/11/exercise-after-heart-attack-may-improve-survival, Accessed July 13 2020

Physical activity after a heart attack | The Heart Foundation, https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/recovery-and-support/physical-activity-after-a-heart-attack, Accessed July 13 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jul 13, 2020
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel