Tips on getting fit after a heart event

An elderly person doing some summer gardening

Want to get a bit fitter but not sure where to start? Lulu Trask gets top tips from Physiotherapist Susan Young

Keeping fit doesn’t just mean joining a sports club or signing up for a marathon.

Simply building on activities that you already do can make a difference.

Choosing a fitness activity

Walking the dog, going shopping, cooking or even cleaning are great ways to build up activity. Gardening is a good example because it offers a range of activities so is suited to all fitness levels. You might want to start by getting someone to help you with the heavier tasks, and do more as your fitness increases.

If you’re not quite sure where to start, Physiotherapist Susan Young recommends walking: “It’s free, easy to do and most people tolerate it very well.”

An elderly lady walking her dogs

How often should I exercise?

Everyone, whether or not you have a health condition, should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Little and often is fine – this could be 30 minutes five times a week or just over 20 minutes each day.

Getting a friend or family member to join you is also a great source of motivation – it means you’re more likely to stick to what you’ve planned and enjoy it more too. Why not ask your friends for suggestions of something you can try with them?

Exercise if you're recovering from a heart event

Physiotherapist Susan Young, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, offers tips for those recovering from a heart event.

Pick an activity you’re familiar with, she says. “We would always recommend picking activities that people know they can cope with.”

Mrs Young also encourages getting active as soon as you can – as you start slowly and build up gradually. “If you don’t do anything for a few weeks after surgery, you lose quite a bit of fitness and strength, which can make the recovery process even longer.”

We would always recommend picking activities that people know they can cope with.

Don’t overdo it, she adds. You could be adjusting to new medication, have a loss in appetite or even be struggling to sleep, all of which can leave you fatigued. “We’d much rather people manage a little bit every day rather than doing too much in one day and not being able to do anything the next.”

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