Exercise And Heart Disease

A sedentary lifestyle is a controllable risk factor in exercise and heart disease along with diabetes, hypertension, cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, elevated serum lipid levels, and stress.

Physical exercise improves the cardiovascular system and reduces the risk for heart disease. Those who chose a sedentary lifestyle often have increased risk for developing obesity and other risk factors.

Management of these risk factors is important in preventing cardiovascular disease.

If you are taking medication for an unstable condition or if you have not received medical release from your rehabilitation program following heart surgery, you should not begin an unsupervised exercise program.

Most older adults can participate safely in a wide variety of activities for exercise and heart disease including low impact aerobic classes, dance classes, progressive resistance training, yoga or Pilates classes.

If you have any risk factors above or have a family history of heart disease, check with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.

It is a good idea to get medical clearance if you are a male over 40 or a female over 50.

Stop exercising if you have any of the following

  1. Over-fatigue
  2. Dizziness
  3. Confusion
  4. Nausea
  5. Muscle Cramps
  6. Shortness of Breath
  7. Palpitations
  8. Chest pressure or pain

If you know you have heart disease, call your Doctor if any of the above happen during a workout.

Safety During Your Workout

If you have heart disease it is recommended that you take your blood pressure before and after exercise and at least once during exercise. Also, take your heart rate several times during your workout.

Make sure you perform a thorough warm-up for at least 10 minutes and cool down after exercise has ended for 10 minutes.

These periods need to have low-level limbering and rhythmical movements.

Avoid saunas, steam baths and hot tubs to decrease the risk of dehydration and hyperthermia.

It may be harmful to hold a muscular contraction due to raised blood pressure. Therefore avoid isometric and heavy resistance exercise.

If you have the flu or a fever, wait until your temperature has returned to normal before exercising.

Check out these other great ideas and solutions for elderly home care and safety.

Exercise and heart disease activities

Some  exercises are well suited to those with heart disease.


As Jack LaLanne says, walking is the “king of exercise”. Starting an outdoor walking program when the weather is favorable is a great start.  If you are a low fit person, start with 2-5  minutes. Try to build up to 30 to 45 minutes of continuous walking 3 days a week

Low impact aerobic class


Make sure the class is of low intensity so that the heart rate is controlled and does not exceed your training range. Don’t use ankle or wrist weights during your aerobic class.

Avoid overhead arm work.  Always include a warm up period and cool down period in your class. Check your heart rate several times during class.



Either an aqua-aerobics class for non-swimmers, or lap swimming for skilled swimmers is a good choice for endurance exercise. Don’t swim in water that is too cold. Water temperature from 80 to 86 degrees is most appropriate for the general population.

Stationary Cycling:

This is a great way to get in your aerobic workout. Make sure the seat is comfortable and cushioned to help prevent pressure ulcers and gloves to help prevent blisters on the hands. Try to build up to 20-30 minutes, three times per week.

When considering exercise and heart disease and beginning a fitness program, be consistent with quality exercise sessions to increase the benefits to your heart.