The Best Exercises for People with Heart Problems

You don’t have to stop exercising just because you have a heart problem. In fact, it’s better for many heart patients to keep moving with these exercises!

Every year 610,000 people die from heart disease. That’s about one of every four deaths in America. Heart disease is one of the top health problems in America and a growing concern throughout the world. The best way to prevent heart problems—and many other diseases—is to stay active and eat a heart-healthy diet.

Even if you’ve fallen victim to a health condition, don’t let it be a death sentence. You can take control of your health to the best of your ability by eating right and staying active. Here are there best exercises if you suffer from heart problems.

Doctor discussing records with senior patient

Things to Consider Before Exercising

Before starting any exercise regimen you need to consult your physician. Here are some things you should ask your doctor:

  • How frequently can I exercise?
  • How long can I exercise?
  • How should I manage my medications around my exercise?
  • Do I need to monitor my heart rate while exercising?

The answer to these questions will help guide what you do and when. Plus, you’ll want to take into consideration some other factors such as:

  • Don’t do any exercise that causes strain, such as sit-ups or pushups.
  • Be aware of weather conditions. If it’s too hot, cold, or humid, then you may need to exercise indoors.
  • Monitor your water intake. You don’t want to be dehydrated, but your doctor may have you on a water restriction.
  • If it’s been a while since you last exercised, then take your time in getting back to it. You’ll want to be easy on yourself.

The Best Exercises for People with Heart Problems

Best Exercises for Heart Patients

The best exercises are those that work your cardiovascular system without putting strain on your heart muscles. The right cardiovascular exercises will strengthen your heart muscle, improve your circulation and lower your blood pressure.

1. Walking

You can’t go wrong with walking. It’s one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of being human. You have to do it to live life, so you might as well do just a bit more of it each day. Wear a fitness tracker to monitor your steps, or take your dog for an extra lap around the block.

Walking is also the best way to monitor your exercise tolerance. If you’re unable to walk from your car to door of the grocery store, then you know you need to slowly build your fitness level for better health.

2. Yoga

There are all kinds of yoga. It’s best to avoid hot yoga or Bikram yoga. These types of yoga place you in very hot rooms which can be intolerable for some individuals with heart problems.

Instead, find a calm yoga series you can do in the comfort of your own home. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to worry about the weather outside.

3. Tai Chi

Tai chi is a Chinese martial art form that many individuals do today for a slow-moving form of exercise. Tai chi acts to link body movements with breath for intentional exercise. One of the biggest benefits includes mental calmness and clarity, and any exercise that helps to reduce stress is of great benefit for your heart.

4. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent choice in warm weather, but be sure that when you swim the water isn’t too cold.

You’ll want to be gentle with yourself and wade in shallow water while you work your way up to swimming lengths of the pool. You can find a water aerobics series or class, if swimming lanes alone isn’t your thing.

5. Biking

Biking can be an easy and gentle form of exercise, as long as you’re not dodging traffic or freezing in cold temperatures. Pick a nice day and a beautiful trail around a lake or pond.

6. Light jogging

You’ll want to consult your doctor before heavy or long distance jogging, but if you do feel called, light jogging can be a major benefit to your overall cardiovascular health.

Senior man on his mountain bike outdoors

What to Watch Out For While Exercising

You should stop exercising if you begin to experience:

  • a rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or pain anywhere in your body

If any of these problems persist after you’ve stopped, then you need to notify your physician.

Don’t let your heart problems hinder your enthusiasm for life. In fact, use your heart condition as even more reason to go after life with gumption. Just do so in a way that honors your body where it’s at now, and remember to pace yourself.

Image via Getty Images


Chad A
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Jan K
Jan S3 months ago

Thanks very much

Val P
Val P3 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W3 months ago

thank you for posting

Clare O'Beara
Clare O3 months ago

Take a walking stick if your balance might be off. People will notice you and open doors for you.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O3 months ago

As you get stronger, walk with a backpack and add a book or shopping.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O3 months ago

Walk a little every day.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O3 months ago

If you can't walk, swim at least once a week. Just find a pool with wide shallow steps and if you need to, bring a carer to make sure you do not slip on tiled floors. Wade and splash a bit if you can't actually swim. This is relaxing and takes the weight off your joints.

Debbi W
Debbi W3 months ago

I agree with Anne M. Walking is great exercise and it doesn't cost a cent. Start out slow and increase your distance and or speed as you gain strength.

Anne Moran
Anne M3 months ago

Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.. - It's the BEST exercise you can do at any age, and great for whatever ails you.. - Let's get those sneakers on, and get cracking !!