Exercise

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and the information you read on this page and throughout this website is based on my own research as it may apply to my own unique situation. Before starting or consuming any exercise program, diet or supplements, please check with your doctor. DO NOT follow my advice or examples without first consulting with a healthcare professional that is knowledgeable about your disease, condition and symptoms.

Many years ago exercise was not recommended for individuals with congestive heart failure. It was believed that any stress on an already weakened heart could result in further damage and/or death. The best advice doctors had was for heart failure patients to relax, keep their heart rate down and to avoid stress and physical exertion.  Today mild to moderate exercise is recommended and highly encouraged.

To begin with, let’s look at the benefits of exercise:

  • Strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Improves blood pressure, reduces weight and body fat
  • Improves oxygen circulation throughout the body
  • Improves symptoms of heart failure
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improves strength, muscle tone and bones
  • Improves flexibility and balance
  • Helps to reduce hypertension, stress and anxiety
  • Helps to prevent depression or improves symtoms of depression
  • Boosts self-esteem and helps you to look fit and feel healthy
  • Improves sleep and reduces restlessness

Everyone should adhere to a routine that includes physical activity to improve overall health and fitness and to prevent many adverse health outcomes. The benefits of physical activity occur in generally healthy people, in people at risk of developing chronic diseases, and in people with current chronic conditions or disabilities.  Physical activity affects many health conditions, and the specific amounts and types of activity that benefit each condition vary.  Research indicates that once the health benefits from physical activity begin to accrue, additional amounts of activity provide additional benefits.

Although some health benefits seem to begin with as little as 60 minutes (1 hour) a week, research shows that a total amount of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, consistently reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and other adverse health outcomes.

Additional benefits of exercise:

  • Some physical activity is better than none.
  • For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
  • Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity.
  • Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.
  • Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.
  • The health benefits of physical activity occur for people with disabilities.
  • The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes.

Flexibility (and warm-up)

Two of the most neglected areas in strength and conditioning are warming up & improving flexibility, both of which involves the slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching arms, legs and torso before and after exercising increases the body temperature and helps to prepare the muscles for activity and serves to reduce the chance of injury and muscle strain. Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, tai chi and yoga, provide for better balance, a better range of motion and flexibility

Cardiovascular or aerobic

In this kind of physical activity (also called an endurance activity or cardio activity), the body’s large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time. Brisk walking, running, bicycling, jumping rope, and swimming are all examples.Aerobic activity causes a person’s heart to beat faster than usual.Aerobic physical activity has three components:

  • Intensity, or how hard a person works to do the activity. The intensities most often examined are moderate intensity (equivalent in effort to brisk walking) and vigorous intensity (equivalent in effort to running or jogging);
  • Frequency, or how often a person does aerobic activity; and
  • Duration, or how long a person does an activity in any one session.

Although these components make up a physical activity profile, research has shown that the total amount of physical activity (minutes of moderate–intensity physical activity, for example) is more important for achieving health benefits than is any one component (frequency, intensity, or duration).

Muscle Strengthening

This kind of activity, which includes resistance training and lifting weights, causes the body’s muscles to work or hold against an applied force or weight. These activities often involve relatively heavy objects, such as weights, which are lifted multiple times to train various muscle groups. Muscle-strengthening activity can also be done by using elastic bands or body weight for resistance (climbing a tree or doing push-ups, for example).

Muscle-strengthening activity also has three components:

  • Intensity, or how much weight or force is used relative to how much a person is able to lift;
  • Frequency, or how often a person does muscle strengthening activity; and
  • Repetitions, or how many times a person lifts a weight (analogous to duration for aerobic activity). The effects of muscle-strengthening activity are limited to the muscles doing the work. It’s important to work all the major muscle groups of the body: the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Bone-Strengthening Activity

This kind of activity (sometimes called weight-bearing or weight-loading activity) produces a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. This force is commonly produced by impact with the ground. Examples of bone-strengthening activity include jumping jacks, running, brisk walking, and weight-lifting exercises. As these examples illustrate, bone-strengthening activities can also be aerobic and muscle strengthening.

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