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Exercise tips

What kind of exercise should you do?

Both aerobic exercise (walking, bicycling) and strength training (lifting weights and using resistance machines) should be part of your personal fitness program. One can't replace the other — you need both.

Strength training will lift and tone your muscles, and aerobic conditioning will decrease fat and strengthen your heart muscle.

Combine your exercise with something fun. Ride your stationary bike while watching your favorite television show, or listening to an audio book or your favorite music.

How should you structure your workout?

Here is an example of a complete workout. Check with your health care team for your specific plan.

  • Begin with 4 to 5 minutes of low level aerobic activity (walking, for example), as a warm-up.
  • Do stretching.
  • Do aerobic conditioning.
  • Do cool-down.
  • Do strength training.
  • Do more stretching.

Wind chill chart

If you go outside in the winter, use this chart to figure the wind chill. In general, avoid going outside when the temperature and wind chill are less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

wind chill chart

More exercise tips

  • Exercise after a rest period.
  • Don't exercise right after eating — wait 1 or 2 hours after a meal. Your digestive system requires extra blood after eating. This decreases the amount of blood flow to other parts of your body, like your heart. This may decrease your heart's ability to tolerate physical activity.
  • If you get tired, stop and sit down until you feel you can continue. Climb stairs slowly and avoid carrying heavy items.
  • Don't exercise if you're ill or have a fever.
  • Dress in layers. As your body temperature heats up during exercise, shed extra layers. Don't wear rubberized suits that increase sweating.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive athletic shoes.
  • Exercise on level surfaces in safe areas (avoid icy or bumpy walking paths, for example).
  • If you exercise in the early morning, ask your doctor if you should take your medicines at least 30 minutes before you start to work out.
  • Keep breathing normally during activities and exercises. Note: also avoid straining during a bowel movement.
  • Avoid activities that require you to hold your arms high for more than short periods.
  • Exercise indoors during hot and humid weather or windy and cold weather. Avoid exercising outside when the temperature and humidity each are greater than 80 F (combined to total more than 160 F) or the temperature and wind chill are less than 20 F.



Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts