Most exercise is used as a preventative measure for heart attacks, but there have been few studies examining the exercise levels after a patient has suffered a heart attack until now. According to new research by Gothenburg University, Sweden, patients who became more physically active in the year after a heart attack could significantly reduce their risk of suffering from further heart problems.
22,227 patients in Sweden were included in a study that was conducted between 2005 and 2013, and their levels of physical activity were reported 6-10 weeks and 12 months after they’d suffered a heart attack.
On both occasions, patients were asked how many times they had exercised for a period of 30 minutes or longer during the precious seven days, and were categorised as either constantly inactive, reduced activity, increased activity, or constantly active.
The study showed that – compared to patients who were constantly inactive – the risk of death was 37%, 51%, and 59% lower in patients in the categories of increased activity, and constantly active.
We discuss below some of the best ways to ease yourself into exercise after suffering from a heart attack, as it’s important to begin a regular activity program to help reduce the chance of having additional heart problems. Note; it is important to remember that everyone recovers at a different pace, which may be related to your activity level before your heart attack, or the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
- Start slowly
Walking is considered the best type of physical activity for many reasons. As you get stronger, you want to be walking briskly and still be able to carry on a conversation. Also;
- It’s gentle on your body and is a low impact activity
- You can go at your own pace
- It’s free
- You can walk and talk with others, which could help with motivation and confidence
- Strength Training
After a heart attack, some resistance exercises are beneficial. You can start with bicep curls without weight, start small and then work your way up to eight or 12 of those as a set. We suggest two or three sets and when that gets easy, grab a can of soup to start doing it with a little weight. You should also:
- Alternate between upper body, and lower body resistance training
- Focus on exercises such as the chest press, shoulder press, bicep curls, lower-back extensions, etc
- Lift weights in a rhythmic manner at a slow, controlled speed
Alternatively, you can get in touch with one of our personal trainers, who can tailor a programme to your specific needs.
- Regular activity is key
As shown in the study above, regular, moderate-intensity physical activity is beneficial when it comes to heart diseases. It will help you;
- Reduce your risk of further heart problems
- Improve your long-term health
- Have more energy
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Feel more confident, happy, and relaxed
Although – after a heart attack – sufferers benefit most from the circuit-training machines found in most gyms, it also helps to have an experienced trainer to get you started. And don’t forget to check with your doctor to establish the exercise level that’s right for you.
For further information about how we can help tailor a fitness programme that suits you, click here.