Exercise Guidelines

Why should I exercise?

  • Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system
  • Reduce your heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and being overweight
  • Improve your circulation and help the body use oxygen better
  • Improve your heart failure symptoms
  • Help increase your energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath
  • Improve muscle tone and strength
  • Improve balance and joint flexibility
  • Strengthen bones
  • Help reduce body fat and reach a healthy weight
  • Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression
  • Boost self image and self esteem


How do I get started?

  • Always check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
  • Start on flat land after you are well-rested, before meals or 90 minutes after meals.
  • Start for a short duration, 5-10 minutes, to see how you feel.
  • Gradually build up the duration times if you are tolerating your 5-10 minutes well.
  • Walk at a steady pace. You should be able to walk and talk without being breathless.
  • If you are on a fluid restriction, remember to follow your guidelines.
  • Do an activity you enjoy! You are more likely to stick with it.
  • Finding an exercise “buddy” will also help you stay motivated.
  • Keep an exercise record.


What type of exercise is best?

Stretching: Slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility.

Cardiovascular or aerobic: Steady physical activity using large muscle groups. This type of exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body’s ability to use oxygen.

Aerobic exercises include: Warm-up, cool down, walking, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), low impact aerobics, or water aerobics.


How often should I exercise?

In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week.


Exercise Precautions

  • Avoid lifting, pushing, pulling heavy objects and chores such as raking, mowing or scrubbing. Chores around the house may sometimes be tiring, so ask for help.
  • Avoid push-ups, sit-ups, and isometric exercises.Isometric exercises involve straining muscles against other muscles.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors when it is too cold, hot, or humid. Try mall walking if the weather is not desirable.
  • Do not exercise if you are not feeling well or if you have a fever.Wait a few days after all symptoms disappear before restarting your exercise program, unless your doctor or nurse gives you other directions.


Stop exercising and rest if you:

  • Have chest pain or pressure, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder discomfort
  • Feel weak
  • Are dizzy or lightheaded
  • Have unexplained weight gain or swelling
  • Have any other symptoms that are cause for concern


If symptoms do not resolve within 3-5 minutes, call your doctor or call 911.


Energy-Saving Techniques

“Think Through the Task to be Done”

You can help yourself feel better by conserving your energy. Pacing yourself, getting enough rest, and simplifying tasks, allows you to do more without getting as tired. You’ll also be less short of breath.



  1. Plan your daily chores in advance so that you won’t feel rushed or have to push beyond your limitations.Break up large tasks into more manageable ones. Delegate tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Do the tasks that require the most exertion when you have the most energy.
  3. Alternate easy and difficult activities, and take rest periods between them to prevent over-fatigue.
  4. Save 50% of your energy: sit down to do your work whenever you can.Use a stool at the kitchen counter, at the workbench, or in the shower.
  5. Prepare food for two or more meals in one cooking session.Refrigerate or freeze individual size meals for another time.
  6. Keep things you use the most at waist level so you can get to them without reaching or bending.
  7. Use lightweight, nonstick pots and cookware.
  8. Use assistive devices to help you.These include: cordless phones, electric can openers and grab bars.
  9. Plan your day so you don’t have to climb stairs more than a few times.
  10. Adopt a cooperative work-sharing attitude with your family.


The Borg Scale for Rating of Perceived Exertion