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You Can Weather Cardiac Rehab

But if it's warm, follow this advice

SUNDAY, June 8 , 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Physical activity is a key component of cardiac rehabilitation. That's because exercise strengthens your heart muscles, helps keep your weight in check, and can help lower your cholesterol.

Your doctor or rehab nurse will usually work with you in designing a workout program, but walking is probably the most common and the most convenient activity.

Fluctuations in weather don't need to deter you. While it's advisable to exercise indoors on days of extreme temperatures, you can safely head outdoors if it's warm and sunny or brisk and gloomy.

Some sweat buildup is normal, but stop and rest if you feel lightheaded, nauseous, tired or experience any discomfort in your chest.

The Cardiac Rehab Center at Rochester General Hospital's Heart Institute has developed these guidelines for an outdoor walking program:

  • In summer, walk either in the early morning or late evening when the heat and humidity are less. Also, wear light cotton fabrics for your workouts; they let the sweat evaporate instead of clinging to your skin.
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after your walk.
  • You should warm up for about five minutes before exercising and spend another five minutes cooling down at the end.
  • Walk at a pace that doesn't leave you breathless. You should be able to carry on a conversation while you walk.
  • Build up your routine slowly. The first few times, walk for about five-minute stretches and then gradually increase your time and distance until you can walk comfortably for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Wait about an hour-and-a-half after eating before you head out and avoid walking if you're feeling under the weather. Your heart has to work harder to pump the blood to your stomach to digest your food. If you exercise on top of that, your heart has a double workload.

More information

For detailed information on cardiac rehabilitation, visit the Mayo Clinic.

SOURCES: Rochester General Hospital, Inpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program; Mayo Clinic
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