Couple walking for fitness

Feeling out of shape? Been a while since you exercised?

CHF can leave patients tired, making the thought of physical activity, well, just a thought. But studies have shown exercise is one of the best ways to make CHF patients feel better.

Exercise has several benefits for CHF patients. It can strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure, relieve stress and even help you reach a healthy weight.

Cardiologists and cardiac rehabilitation experts can help you decide the type of exercise you should do, as well as how much, how often and when you should exercise.

Overall, here are a few tips to remember when working out with CHF:

  • Start slow – The American Heart Association recommends patients work up to exercising most days of the week. Try low impact activities like gardening, housekeeping, walking and yoga.
  • Build gradually – Increase how much and how hard you exercise as your strength grows. Eventually, you may be able to ride a bicycle, jog and even dance. If you cannot comfortably talk during the activity, it's probably too intense.
  • Stop exercising if you feel these symptoms:
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • Fast or irregular heart beat
    • Pressure in your arm, chest, jaw or neck
    • Severe pain
    • Unusual or worse than usual shortness of breath
    • Weakness

Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised education and exercise program that can improve your heart's health. Through the program, CHF patients learn lifestyle changes that can reduce symptoms and keep the condition from getting worse.

Outpatient cardiac rehab typically involves two to three sessions a week for up to 12 weeks. While most insurance companies cover a majority of the costs, the program does require a referral from your doctor.

To find out if you're eligible for cardiac rehab, contact your doctor's office.