Strength Training for Heart Patients

Mild exercise is usually not considered harmful, and offers a number of health benefits to participants. While you may not necessarily need to see your doctor before you start a mild exercise program, there are times when you should make an appointment with your health care provider before you start working out.

Consult a physician before starting an exercise program if you:

1. Are middle-aged or an older adult who has not been active on a regular basis for some time and you are planning an aggressive exercise routine

2. Have a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes

3. Are taking medication for a heart condition or high blood pressure

4. Have had chest pain within the past 30 days, or

5. Have experienced symptoms of angina (chest pain, tightness, or squeezing after exercising or when under emotional stress).

Strength Training and High-risk Heart Patients

Strength training, when combined with stretching and aerobic exercise, is part of a healthy lifestyle. It is not a good choice for people with any of the following medical conditions:

  • High blood pressure that is not being controlled with medication
  • Leaky heart valves
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • History of heart failure that has not been investigated and treated appropriately

Getting Started with Strength Training for Heart Patients

Once your doctor has given you the all clear to exercise, you will need to think about how to start strength training. If you haven’t been active up to this point, consider sticking to aerobic exercise exclusively for the first couple of weeks.

When you are ready to start strength training, it’s a good idea to get some direction from a personal trainer who has experience working with heart patients. Make sure you get instruction in the proper way to work with the weights and how to breathe correctly while doing so.

Your instructor should explain that you shouldn’t hold your breath while working out and that you should exhale as you lift the weight and take a breath when you are lowering it. Keeping your back straight while exercising is important, as is making controlled movements.

A person who has recently undergone heart surgery can start performing some range of motion exercises before being released from hospital. After four or six weeks, he or she can start an aerobic exercise program. After a couple of weeks of doing the aerobic workout, the patient should check in with his or her doctor check the sternum to evaluate the level of healing and to give the all-clear for strength training. Exercises that involves pulling in this region of the body should be avoided for approximately 90 days after surgery.

Consult with your doctor for guidelines for strength training for individual cases.

Weight Training for Women: Facts You Need to Know

Cardiovascular exercise for heart health is an important part of getting and staying fit, but women shouldn’t ignore weight training as a way to help them meet their goals of having a strong, healthy body.

Fear of Bulking Up

One of the major reasons women shy away from deciding to work out with free weights or use an exercise machine like a treadmill or a stairclimber is that they are afraid of bulking up. Incorporating weight training into your exercise machine won’t make you look like The Hulk; instead, it helps you to develop lean muscle.

Men build muscle when they use weights due to the higher level of testosterone in their bodies. Women have some of this hormone in their system, but not enough that they will develop muscle in the way that a man does.

Women who are working out with weights should keep the number of sets low. Doing four or five sets per muscle group with seven or eight reps per set will give you a great workout without overstraining.

Concern About Free Weights

Women can definitely use free weights when working out. This option gives a better range of movement than you would get if you were using an exercise machine. If your goal is to work your muscles more efficiently, then incorporate free weights into your routine.

Exercise machines are a safer choice if you have been injured in the past or you are new to working out. The range of movement available with a machine is controlled, and as long as you are using a weight that is challenging without being too heavy, the risk of injury is low.

To get started with free weights, book a session or two with a personal trainer. He or she can suggest some exercises for you to start with, as well as the right level of weights to use.

Stick with It

You can go to the gym, consult with a personal trainer and make a plan for working out with weights. It won’t do you any good if you don’t stick to it. Start slowly, with relatively light weights and make sure you give your body at least one rest day in between strength training sessions. In addition to building strength and conditioning your heart, remember that exercise can lower triglycerides and cholesterol too.

Weight training for women can help you to build lean muscle and improve your appearance. The changes won’t happen overnight, but if you stick to your routine, you will start to see results within the first few weeks. This early success will motivate you to continue with this important part of getting and staying fit.