7 Tips for Exercising After an Angioplasty
After a heart attack, heart surgery or angioplasty, many people think they should avoid exercise to prevent putting too much stress on their heart. In reality, the opposite is true. Regular physical activity can help strengthen your heart muscle. It can also reduce your risk for heart disease and control issues that can cause heart problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
People with heart conditions who exercise regularly and make heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. After an angioplasty, get moving as soon as your doctor says it’s okay. These seven tips can help you do it safely.
1. Start slow. If you’re recovering from heart surgery, start slow. With time, as your health improves, increase your level of activity. For instance, start with walking at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Slowly increase the time and distance each time you walk.
2. Aim for 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. That’s the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of exercise. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include walking, cycling, rowing, and climbing stairs.
3. Follow a well-rounded program. In addition to aerobic exercise, add muscle-strengthening activities two to three days per week. This will help you build a stronger, healthier body. Strengthening exercises include lifting hand weights or free weights, using a weight machine, or using elastic bands that provide resistance.
4. Sprinkle exercise throughout your day. Increasing your physical activity is about more than regular workouts—it’s about living a more active lifestyle. Look for opportunities throughout your day to be more active. This may mean parking farther away from buildings, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or fitting in a 15-minute walk during your lunch break.
5. Find an activity you enjoy. The best exercise is whatever kind you’ll do. You’re more likely to stick with an exercise program if you enjoy doing it. Discuss with your doctor what’s safe for you, then experiment with different activities until you find those you look forward to most.
6. Exercise with others. Combining exercise and spending time with loved ones is a win-win. When you exercise with a buddy, he or she can help you stick with your routine. Look for different activities you can do with different people. Take an after-dinner walk with your family. Go on a hike with your spouse. Play catch with your kids or grandkids. It gives new meaning to quality time!
7. Track your progress. Each day, write down or use an app to record your activity. This can help you keep track of your progress. Use this information to set goals and stay motivated. You’ll feel proud of how far you’ve come.