Taking Care Of Your Heart After Surgery With Exercise

One of the most important things you can do after any type of heart surgery is to get on a regular schedule of exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that exercise is a valuable tool against recurring heart disease. Your heart doctor will work with you in the hospital to design an exercise program that works for you. Your responsibility is to maintain that program to keep your heart healthy. Here is why exercise is such an important part of your self-care once you get home.

Your Heart is Like Any Other Muscle

Heart muscle is made up of fibers, nerves, and blood vessels, like the other muscles in your body. All of these components need to be healthy for the heart to continue beating properly. While the heart muscle is constantly moving at a steady rate, the pumping action does not exercise those tissues. In order for the heart to get a workout, your heart rate must increase, causing your heart to work a little harder. Exercise that gets your heart rate up for a few minutes several days a week conditions your heart muscle, making it stronger.

Your doctor will give you the parameters for your exercise program. They will prescribe how many times a week you should exercise and the heart rate you should attain each time. For example, the AHA notes studies that suggest 30 to 60 minutes of exercise 3 days a week with a target of 60 to 75 percent of your normal resting heart rate as a good guideline.

The Overall Benefit of a Cardiac Workout

The type of exercise program recommended by your heart doctor is designed to keep healthy all of those areas that affect your heart. The goals of this program includes

  • increasing your tolerance to exercise. This builds up your stamina so your heart doesn't have to strain when your physical activity suddenly increases, such as when going up and down stairs.
  • reducing your weight. Being overweight puts additional stress on your heart as it works to deliver blood to the extra body mass.
  • reducing your blood pressure. High blood pressure causes your heart to work harder to get the blood to all of the tissues in your body.
  • balancing your cholesterol levels. Exercise reduces the bad cholesterol and increases the good cholesterol so you'll be less likely to develop deposits in the blood vessels that can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Exercises That Are Good for Your Heart

  • Walking:
    Simply taking a brisk walk that increases your heart rate is a good workout. Besides elevating your heart rate, the motion forces blood out of your legs and back into your circulation, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your cells.
  • Running
    This gives you the same benefits as walking, but will increase your heart rate sooner.
  • Cycling
    Using a stationary bike is a non-impact way of increasing your heart rate. This is a good choice if your hips, knees, and ankles won't let you walk or run comfortably.
  • Swimming
    This is also a non-impact exercise that's good for your heart. The buoyancy you have in the water takes the weight off your joints while the swimming motions increase your heart rate.

Sticking to an exercise program once you're out of the hospital is a good way to make sure you won't end up back there. Keep your heart healthy after surgery and your entire body will benefit. Talk to a medical professional like Cayuga Medical Center for more information.