Exercising with a Personal Trainer if you have Heart Disease
Physical inactivity is one of the risk factors for heart disease that you have control over. We don’t have control over our family history, age or sex, but we are in charge of our activity levels and improving them can have a significant positive impact on your health. Exercising with a personal trainer is the very best thing someone with heart disease can do for themselves. Not only will personal training help with your cardiovascular conditioning along with many other physical, social and emotional benefits, but it will also help with the lifestyle factors that are common in many people who have heart disease. You may be eligible for a cardiac rehabilitation program. If not, your next best option is to enlist the professional services of a personal trainer. Exercise also reduces your risk of not only doing further damage to your heart but it also reduces risk for stroke and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. As someone with a heart condition, adding exercise to your routine may also help you with other lifestyle factors related to heart disease such as being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure and having high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Benefits of Personal Training for People with Heart Disease
One of the many benefits of exercise to those with heart trouble is that exercise is the only thing (besides some medications) that can raise HDL (high density lipoprotein). HDL is the protective cholesterol that can be improved with conditioning. HDL is protective against cardiovascular disease and can cancel out another risk factor when its reading is above 65 mg/dl. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, but your HDL is above 65, those two factors would cancel each other out.
To gain the most benefit with the least amount of risk you should consult your physician and have them work closely with your personal trainer to ensure the best possible results. If you experience any unusual symptoms during exercise, notify your personal trainer and consult your doctor immediately.
Some unusual signs and symptoms are:
- If you have any pain or pressure in your neck, shoulder, back or chest
- If you have developed any chest pain in the last few weeks (or since exercising)
- Your lose consciousness or get dizzy
- You experience extreme breathlessness
- You feel any joint or other pain that is worsened by physical activity
- Your heart rate not returning to normal after exercise ceases
- A sudden drop in blood pressure
Heart Disease Guidelines and Precautions
- Many of the cardiac medications affect your response to exercising so check with your physician and pharmacist. For example, a beta blocker will lower you heart rate and blood pressure both at rest and during exercise.
- Initially avoid heavy lifting and isometric exercises as that may cause you to strain, hold your breath and ultimately raise your blood pressure. Focus on breathing naturally with each exercise movement.
- Allow for your heart rate to recover in between exercises so that you are able to give your best effort during the exercise.
- Exercise under comfortable temperatures and avoid excessive heat, cold or humidity. If anything in the environment is causing difficult breathing or chest pain stop exercise immediately. Avoid excessively hot showers or saunas, spa’s or steam rooms after a workout.
- Drink water before, during and after your exercise session.
When someone with heart disease begins an exercise program they can gradually progress from low levels of ability to significantly higher levels of performance. In time they may be able to lower their dosages of medication, experience higher levels of energy as well as see significant improvements to their cardiac function.
Since people with cardiac conditions should be working at above 50% of their maximum heart rate, it’s important for them to be supervised by a personal trainer who can monitor their heart’s reaction to activity. A personal trainer can also monitor blood pressure before, during and after the exercise session to ensure you are having normal reactions to physical activity.
Activities such as walking and strength training can be done at moderate intensity to see improvements to the cardiovascular system. People who modify their behavior and start regular physical activity after a heart attack have better rates of survival and better quality of life.