Why It’s So Important to Exercise After a Heart Attack

January 9, 2019 Updated: February 13, 2020

After a heart attack, you probably are not thinking of hitting the gym or exercising in general, but you really should. There is strong evidence that engaging in regular aerobic activity post-heart attack can help reduce the risk of death.

Many believe that exercising after a heart attack would be dangerous, as it puts stress on the heart. But in actuality, you aren’t damaging the heart, but you are strengthening it. One important note is that if you weren’t very active prior to a heart attack, after your heart attack isn’t the time to become an athlete, but you can carefully and gradually work your way into regular exercise.

It is recommended that exercise after a heart attack should involve large muscle groups, mainly the legs, so activities like walking, biking, swimming, or jogging are all recommended. Unfortunately, exercises that involve sitting won’t offer many benefits.

Ideally, 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity is recommended post-heart attack. But exercise alone isn’t the only preventative measure to take to reduce your risk of another heart attack.

When it comes to exercise, you don’t necessarily need to hit a gym, either. You can take up activities which you already enjoy, like gardening or even cleaning your home. These are things that still strengthen your heart because you are moving.

The good thing about exercise is that you can do it with others and keep each other motivated to keep going.

It’s important that you incorporate other heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle to further strengthen and protect your heart. This means reducing stress, not smoking, sleeping well, and eating healthily.

If you’re worried about getting into an exercise routine post-heart attack, speak to your doctor about your options or work alongside a trainer.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s of forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.