More than 610,000 Americans die every year from heart disease. Conditions such as coronary and peripheral artery disease, hypertension, and heart attack are the most common cardiovascular conditions found in men and women.
A sedentary lifestyle and poor diet choices are responsible for this growing health epidemic. While heart disease is a chronic health disorder, it’s possible to slow its progression and extend longevity with changes to meal plans and regular exercise. Here are a few tips for staying active with a heart condition.
Starting an Exercise Program After a Heart Attack or Heart Surgery
Victims of a heart attack typically receive surgery, installing stents in arteries, keeping them open. In some cases, bypass surgery removes blocked arteries. After surgery, it’s vital that you start exercising to accelerate the healing process.
Speak to your doctor about implementing a light exercise regimen into your daily routine. Always exercise within your physical limits. Placing strain on your cardiovascular system after surgery has disastrous consequences that land you back on the surgeon’s table if you overdo it too soon.
Listen to your body and avoid exercising if you feel stiff or sore after the previous exercise session. Recovery from exercise is the most critical component of working out safely. Start your exercise routine with low-intensity. Light walks on the treadmill or around the garden are ideal ways to raise your heart rate.
Gradually build up your distance and intensity over the first 4-weeks. Note your improvements in a journal. A training diary is a useful tool to track your recovery and your exercise progress. Take note of your feeling of well-being after the training session and the following day. The journal provides your doctor with a written account of your efforts and helps them identify the source of any problems.
If you experience any chest pain, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath during exercise, stop the session immediately. Call your doctor and ask them for their advice, they may require you to visit their office for an examination. Carry a carry a medical alert device while you’re exercising in case of an emergency.
Structuring an Exercise Program
For the first 6-weeks after your surgery, you need to make steady improvements to your cardiovascular health. Start by walking for 5-minutes a day during the first week. Add 5-minutes every week and increase the distance as you progress. By the end of 6 weeks, you should be able to walk for 30-minutes at a steady pace without feeling tired.
At the end of the 6-week period, it’s time to step it up a gear. Visit your doctor for another checkup and take your training journal with you. Your doctor will analyze your results and let you know if you’re ready to increase your training effort.
If your physician approves of your progress, ask them about adding a resistance training program to your training regimen.
Start with a bodyweight exercise routine that includes pushups and squats. Start with three sets of 5-repetitions for each exercise. Add 2repetitions every other day until you achieve 10-reps per set. When you’re comfortable, add in another until you can do 4-sets of 10 reps in total.
Wrapping Up- Nutrition Matters
Your nutrition is a critical part of your recovery as well. Visit a nutritionist and ask them to draw up a meal plan of healthy foods you enjoy. Avoid eating refined carbohydrates and sugar products. Raising blood sugar levels and cholesterol level with fast food will damage your health, and you’re likely to experience a second cardiovascular event.
Stay committed to improving your health and maintain regular checkups with your physician and nutritionist to monitor your progress.