Staying active with heart valve disease

You may think you shouldn't exercise with heart valve disease, but exercise can help you improve your fitness and keep your heart as healthy as possible. Staying active can also help you keep a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Losing weight can reduce that risk.

The American Heart Association suggests 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. A combination of moderate and vigorous activity works, too.

After talking to your doctor first, look for ways to work in more physical activity each day. Start slowly and work your way toward your goals. Aiming for 30 minutes of activity each day can help you meet this goal. And it all counts — even a few minutes at a time.

Try out activities that sound fun to you or that you already need to do. For example:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood. Start with short walks and work your way up to longer ones. Go for a short walk in the morning and add an evening walk as you're able.
  • Go for a swim, take a water aerobics class or try a tai chi class at your local recreation center or gym.
  • Mow your lawn or work in your garden.
  • Vacuum your floors.
  • Stand on one leg for several seconds and then switch legs. Hold on to a chair in front of you if it's helpful. Balance exercises can help prevent falls and improve your balance.
  • Strengthen your muscles with exercises that use your own body weight, such as lunges and squats. Or add in resistance bands, dumbbells or weight machines to work muscles throughout your body.
  • Stretch for a few minutes after you exercise. Being flexible can help you more easily move your joints and do daily activities.
  • Find reasons to sit less and move more throughout the day, such as standing or walking while you talk on the phone.
  • Try some simple yoga poses in the morning to get moving.

Exercise doesn't have to mean the gym, a race or a marathon. If you're working to be regularly active, you're doing your part to stay as healthy as possible with heart valve disease.

Jan. 14, 2020 See more In-depth