A man leaning against his table holding a water bottle is looking outside the window towards his pool. On the table is a shoe box with new sneakers, behind the man is a chair and a wall poster showing various chair yoga poses.

Low Impact Movement for Your Heart Health

Exercise when you have heart failure is one of those conversations that can truly go any which way. Many people have very strong opinions about this. What one person is capable of is not necessarily something that the next person is capable of. We are all our own person and our bodies and our hearts are capable of different things. There is no wrong or right way. There is only one way that is right for you and that is what works for you and or is prescribed by your doctor.

I am merely here to offer some ideas for low-impact easy things to do to keep your body moving, in turn, this could be beneficial to your heart health. Always remember when it comes to your heart there is no being too careful. Please be sure to run any new workout routines by your health team or cardiologist.

Swimming

There will be none of the diving underwater and swimming underwater till you cannot hold your breath anymore. In fact, holding your breath underwater is something you should avoid. This can put too much strain on your heart. On the upside, swimming is a healthy and low-impact way to keep your body moving, it is excellent for helping blood circulation, at least so my doctor says. The idea is just to move, not to strain yourself or get out of breath. The water helps with buoyancy and makes movement less strenuous on your body. Be aware in the pool that you can sometimes be working harder than it feels like, it might be a good idea to start with walking in the pool or something similar.

Editor's Note: Please consult your doctor before trying to swim. Certain assistive devices should not get wet, and therefore swimming may not be a safe option.

Chair yoga

Chair yoga is the less strenuous baby sister of "normal" yoga.  Again the idea is not to tire yourself out, it is simply to stretch and keep the body moving. I would suggest doing this under the care of a knowledgeable instructor who deals with clients who have heart failure. If that is not something you would like to do, you could perhaps check with your cardiologist what stretches you could do to increase the movement of your body. They may have some great ideas.

Walking

This is my favorite workout, it costs nothing and can be done at your own pace. Once again be sure to check with your doctor about what length of time you should be able to walk for and use that as a starting point. Do not go running up the hills and tiring yourself out, be gentle with yourself. Walking around your garden, or in a local park at a pace that works for you is good, too. Be sure that if you struggle to get your breath you are able to sit often and take it slow. Walking with a partner is always good in my opinion, and it is nice to have company.

Low-impact movements can be helpful to our heart health

Overall it is good to look after yourself and keep your body moving, it is also absolutely amazing for your mental health. 

Doing little bits and resting in between is okay, do not see this as a failure, this is just a different way of doing things, in time you might notice that things become easier and you can move forward with more training.

Work alongside a professional and someone who is knowledgeable in heart failure and how to train with it.

Importantly, remember to stop immediately if you find that you are experiencing heart palpitations, severe shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or any other symptoms, and as mentioned before always speak with your physician before starting a new exercise routine.

Like the beat of your heart, it is good to keep moving.

Low-impact movements and heart failure

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