8 reasons to exercise with heart failure

Once upon a time, heart failure patients were strictly forbidden to exercise for fear it would lead to harmful ventricular enlargement and potentially kill them.

However, current guidelines recommend exercise training as an adjunctive therapy in patients with chronic heart failure.

The latest evidence, published this week in Circulation, shows that moderate, continuous training is superior to high-intensity interval training in reversing left ventricular remodelling and increasing aerobic capacity.

In this study of 261 heart failure patients, the researchers were able to prove that supervised exercise training is safe, and does not deteriorate dilatation and function of the heart.

“Overall, this new study underscores how advisable regular physical training at moderate intensity is for patients with systolic heart failure," says lead author, Martin Halle, professor of preventive and rehabilitative sports medicine at the Technical University of Munich.

However, he cautions high-intensity exercise be avoided until larger studies prove it to be safe.

“Moderate training means around one hundred steps per minute or 3,000 steps in 30 minutes,” he says.

Here are the eight good reasons for cardiac patients to exercise:

  1. Decreased strain on the heart
  2. Improvement of heart muscle function
  3. Improvement of blood vessel dilation
  4. Forming of new blood vessels
  5. Lowering of elevated blood pressure
  6. Improved oxygen uptake for energy production
  7. Improved endurance and performance
  8. Decreased risk of cardiac and vascular emergencies such as MI and stroke

You can read the study here.