Strength training is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Doing strengthening activities increases your aerobic fitness in addition to building muscle. But when you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you might have concerns about getting started. While most people with heart disease and other chronic conditions can exercise safely and reap the benefits, there are some things to know.
Check in with your doctor
Before starting a new exercise routine, check in with your doctor to see if there are any restrictions or guidelines they recommend. Ask if there are any other professionals you should consult with, such as a skilled personal trainer, to help you get started with strength training. You should also ask whether increasing activity could affect the dosage of any of your medications.
Work all muscle groups
Ideally, you should aim to work all the muscles in your body (chest, back, arms, legs, abdomen and shoulders) twice a week.
Do what you can
If you haven’t been strength training, it can feel intimidating to do full-body workouts twice a week. The good news is, something is better than nothing. So start where you are and you can gradually increase your ability. You can begin with light weights or modified bodyweight exercises and increase the intensity as you gain muscle mass.
Pay attention to proper form
To avoid injury, it’s important to use proper form and technique. It can be helpful to start off with in-person classes or training sessions where an instructor or trainer can watch your technique and help you modify as needed.
Monitor your symptoms and progress
If you notice any chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or other symptoms while you’re exercising, stop and get medical help. Monitoring your progress can help you set realistic goals that keep you moving forward in your fitness journey.