Healthy Heart; "For This Relief Much Thanks. 'Tis Bitter Cold, and I Am Sick at Heart." - William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English Poet Hamlet, Act 1, Sc. 1, L. 8

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. Brix Pujalte

HERE's the Catch-22 of exercise for heart patients: Conditioning exercises will stress an unhealthy heart but no exercise will lead to an even unhealthier life. There must be a solution somewhere.

Benefits, benefits. We need to be reminded that our bodies were designed for movement and exertion. Our ancestors weren't sitting behind desks or vegetating in front of the TV set. Now one of the known risk factors in developing heart disease is a sedentary or inactive lifestyle. However, regular (aerobic) exercise:

* Lowers blood pressure

* Strengthen heart muscles and cardiovascular system in general

* Improves balance and joint flexibility

* Strengthens bones

* Reduces body fat

* Improves sleep

* Boosts self-image

* Reduces stress

* Improves heart failure symptoms

* Improves circulation

* Increases energy

Put exclamation points after these and they will look like an advertisement for a pill or drink but it doesn't come with "no approved therapeutic claims" in the fine print. Regular exercise works.

First See Your Doctor. WebMD, a trustworthy website for both the general public and doctors, encourages a medical check up before starting an exercise program. Make sure that you ask these questions:

1. How much exercise can I do?

2. How often can I exercise in a week?

3. What type of exercises can I do?

4. What exercises should I avoid?

5. Should I take my medication(s) before or after exercise?

Exercise can be divided into stretching -- necessary to prepare joints, muscles and tendons for more mechanical load and prevent injury; cardiovascular or aerobic or steady physical movement that stresses the lungs and heart and improves the oxygen use of the body; and strengthening in which exercises usually with the use of weights give mass and tone to muscles.

Rated Perceived Exertion. This is a scale that is graded by the patient or individual exercising. Its purpose is to determine if the exercise is doing harm or good. Zero (0) or doing nothing at all is equivalent to sitting down and on the other end, Ten (10) or very, very heavy is the feeling after an exercise stress test. If you haven't been through an exercise stress test, just replace this with the most physically exhausting activity you can recall. …