Cardiac Rehab Exercises: Safety in Exercising After a Heart Attack

A heart attack or mycardial infarction is the death of heart muscle due to a decrease in blood supply. This is usually caused by the complete or partial blockage of a coronary artery (blood vessels that supply the heart). If the heart muscle cells cannot get oxygen-rich blood then they die.

What Type of Exercise Is Okay for Me After a Heart Attack?

Shortly after a heart attack, doctors often place patients in a supervised cardiac rehabliitation program. These programs are designed on an individual basis. They always include some type of light supervised cardio, education about nutrition and counseling on how to reduce risk factors for another heart attack. Cardiac rehab is divided into stages. The beginning stages involve close supervision of heart rate, breathing and exertion. As a heart patient progresses through the stages of rehab, the patient is allowed to do more vigorous exercise with the goal of being able to exercise on their own unsupervised by a medical professional.

After the first stages of cardiac rehab have been completed, doctors usually recommend that patients continue to exercise on a regular basis. This independent exercise is the maintenance phase of rehab.

Continuing an Exercise Program

After you have gotten clearance from your doctor, you should begin an exercise routine that includes resistance and cardio training. Also, the resistance training should be introduced slowly. Start out with a few simple moves with the large muscle groups and be sure to keep the weight light. You should not lift heavy weights or engage in strenuous activity until your exercise prescription allows for this type of activity.

If you haven’t received an exercise prescription at the end of your cardiac rehab program, see your cardiologist and an exercise physiologist to get one personalized for you. It will include guidelines for how hard, how long and how often you can exercise. It should also include recommendations for gradually increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of your workouts.

How Often Should You Exercise?

When you begin your cardiac rehab plan, your doctor will tell you specifically how long and how often to exercise. Once you have completed the rehabilition, most physcians recommend that you exercise no more than 60 minutes on most days of the week. Of course you can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts according to your personalized exercise plan.

Is it Safe?

After you have been cleared by your doctor to participate in physical activity, as long as you follow the guidlines perscribed for you, exercising after a heart attack is very safe and can actually help to prevent you from having another attack. This is because cardio strengthens your heart muscle and improves its function, even during every day activities.

Keep one thing in mind about exercise safety for heart patients: regardless of what your exercise prescription calls for, stop exercising if you feel bad. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, faint or pain you should stop immediately and seek immediate medical attention.