Doctors used to tell people with heart failure that they shouldn’t exercise at all but now we know that’s not what’s best. Aerobic exercise (that raises your heart rate) is actually good for people with mild heart failure and for some with more advanced forms of heart failure too.

If your doctor has told you that it is okay to exercise, then it really is a good idea to do so! It helps keep your heart strong.

Here are some tips:

  • Build gradually.
    If you haven’t been exercising at all, start with walking a few minutes per day. If you do a lot of walking and it feels good, think about what else you can do to get even stronger. Swimming, yoga, dance, and cycling are good choices.

  • Start with a warm-up, end with a cool-down.
    Do some stretches and deep breathing at the beginning and end of your workout.

  • Can you talk?
    Exercise at a pace where you are able to speak and have a conversation. If you can’t talk, slow down – it means you are exercising too hard.

  • Things to avoid.
    Don’t do activities that require you to hold your breath (like swimming underwater for a distance) or that are intense (like interval training) or that make you bear down (like lifting heavy weights). Wait an hour or two after eating before exercising.

  • Listen to your body.
    If you have any of these symptoms, stop immediately: Shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, or a cold sweat.