Being physically active can be a huge step towards improving your heart health.
On this page, you can find information about how physical activity can help you manage and improve your heart health.
This page is relevant for people who have experienced or been diagnosed with:
- CVD (Cardiovascular disease): a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels
- Congenital heart disease
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Vascular dementia
Heart problems are one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK, but it can often largely be prevented with a healthy lifestyle including regular physical activity.
Top Tips to Help You Get StartedCVD should actually encourage you to take up physical activity, not put you off!
- Start small. The biggest improvements come from making small changes that you can increase safely, and incorporate into your daily routine. Like taking the stairs not the lift; Parking at the back of the car park not by the door; Getting off the bus a stop early; Walk short journeys.
- Gentle aerobic activities are best – try starting with a gentle walk, bike ride, or swim.
- Strength building activity is also important. Try yoga or some resistance work to keep muscles strong.
- Chair-based exercises can be done at home, and are a great way to get started back into physical activity. The British Heart Foundation have an excellent article with tips and ideas for chair based exercises.
- Gradually increase to 20-30 minutes of exercise to breathlessness each day, starting small with gradual steps aiming to increase your exercise capacity.
- When you're ready, try some more sociable exercises, like doubles badminton, dancing, yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or brisk walking with a friend. Exercising with a friend can help keep you committed.
- Try using an app like Public Health England's Active 10 app to monitor your walks and ensure you're walking briskly.
- Are you uncomfortable exercising in a group? There are lots of home-based activities that you can do to improve strength, stamina, and flexibility: mowing the lawn, digging in the garden or pushing a wheelbarrow, or doing chair-based exercises.
- As your strength, confidence and stamina improves, try to aim for the recommended 150 minutes moderate activity per week. This can be broken down into bouts of 10 - 20 minutes whenever you can fit it in.
Exercise and heart disease prevention:
- Regular exercise can reduce CVD by 20-35%
- Exercise and sport can reduce Hypertension by 33%
- Physical Activity is as effective as anti-hypertensive drugs*, which reduce risk of death by 25-35%(* Fagard RH. Exercise characteristics and the blood pressure response to dynamic physical training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001. 33: S484â€"S492)
Visit your GP for a check-up if you haven't exercised before; if returning from injury or if you're returning to exercise after a long break.
Always seek advice from you GP & if advised to, do not to exercise.