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Heart Failure and Exercise

With heart failure, you may feel tired and not want to exercise. But for some, exercise may be just what the doctor ordered.

older man and woman sitting on exercise balls

If you have heart failure, you may think you need to avoid exercise. The truth is, for most adults who have a chronic condition, physical activity has been found to be safe if it’s done within the limits of their ability.

Exercising can help strengthen your heart, help you lose weight and keep your bones strong. Regular exercise may also help:

  • Reduce your risk of further heart problems, including heart attack
  • Control your weight
  • Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Lower your risk for high blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers
  • Reduce depression
  • Improve muscular fitness
  • Help you keep up daily activities
  • Prevent falls

Only a few lifestyle choices have as big an impact on your health as staying active. Heart failure doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks.

How do you find the right exercise?

It’s important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe. Some types of activities that may work for you include walking, swimming, yoga or gardening.

By Emily Gurnon, Contributing Writer

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical activity and health. Accessed: November 23, 2015.
National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth. Exercise: Benefits of Exercise. Accessed: November 23, 2015.
Health.gov. Additional considerations for some adults. Accessed: November 23, 2015.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Physical Activity? Accessed: November 23, 2015.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015