For Heart Event Survivors

Exercising after a heart attack

Exercise your right to a full recovery after a heart attack.

Suffering a heart attack is probably one of the most frightening and challenging things you’ve ever faced. And being told you need to start—or return to—exercising may also make you pretty nervous.

Don’t worry, it’s safe, just ask your doctor.

It wasn’t all that long ago that many doctors shared these same fears and often advised their heart attack patients not to exercise.

But things have changed. A cardiac rehabilitation exercise program is now common for heart attack survivors. And research shows that is safe if you follow your doctor’s prescription.

What should you do?

Doctors normally recommend two types of exercise for heart attack survivors—aerobic cardiovascular exercise and resistance (strength) training.

  • Aerobic cardiovascular exercise

    Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs and includes activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, jumping rope, rowing, and aerobics classes.

    Your doctor can recommend the exact type and intensity of aerobic cardiovascular exercise you should do. Typically, workouts begin at a low intensity and gradually build to a more intense level.

  • Resistance (strength) training

    As you become healthier, your doctor or therapist may introduce resistance training such as calisthenics, free weights, machines, and other types of equipment.

    When properly described and supervised, resistance training can help has favorable muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular function, metabolism, coronary risk factors, and psychosocial well-being.

Get started.

If you don’t quite feel ready to jump right in*, a great way to start exercising is to fit it into your daily life. We’ve also got lots of tips for staying motivated and making exercise fun—as well as inspiring stories from other survivors.

*Be sure you talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

"I was finally cleared to start a running program. My goal is to be healthy enough to run a 5k."
Ruth D., I am ProHeart Community Member