How should a heart patient begin?

  • Ask your doctor if you may begin an exercise program that includes weight-training.
  • If you have not participated in aerobic exercise, begin an aerobic exercise program for two to four weeks before adding weight training.
  • Speak to a cardiac rehabilitation exercise specialist or trainer who has experience working with heart patients and older adults (if this applies to you). Learn the proper techniques to avoid injury: breathe correctly (naturally, not holding your breath, exhaling during exertion and inhaling during relaxation); avoid straining; use proper posture; and understand the motion
  • A supervised cardiac rehabilitation program may be recommended for some individuals to monitor signs and symptoms of ischemia (decreased blood supply to the heart muscle), blood pressure, heart rate and lifting technique to avoid complications and injury.

What should a weight-training program include?

A weight-training program should be tailored to meet your personal goals. Goals should be created with your age, conditioning, balance, vision, heart disease and any prior orthopedic problems in mind. To achieve results, you may be instructed to use rubber band devices, pulley weights, dumbbells, weight machines, or just your own body weight to provide the resistance.

A weight-training program should consist of performing about 8 different exercises for one set of 10 to 15 repetitions, on two to three days per week. Most heart patients should start at a low resistance and progress slowly. A 1- to 2-pound increase in resistance, every 1 to 4 weeks, depending on your symptoms and fatigue, is suggested.

To make an appointment with an exercise specialist or to join a cardiac rehabilitation program, contact the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology - 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353.

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