Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to the loss of the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood throughout the body, leading to fluid build-up in the lungs and other extremities, decreased blood flow to vital organs, and other serious health complications. It often manifests in older adults but can also affect people under 40 years old if conditions like hypertension or heart attacks have damaged their arteries or hearts. Fortunately, here are some exercises which can help you strengthen your body and improve your quality of life.
Many people with congestive heart failure (CHF) can tolerate some physical activity but always check with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe. Before starting an exercise program, assess your current level of fitness by taking your pulse. If it’s 80 beats or more per minute when you’re at rest, physical activity is likely not suitable for you. If your resting pulse falls below 60 beats per minute, a moderate-intensity exercise program can help lower it. Moderate activities include walking and cycling on flat terrain at a pace that leaves you feeling breathless after 30 seconds or so—but not out of breath all the time. These activities should last no longer than 20 minutes and be done three times a week for maximum benefit.
In general, everyone should get moderate exercise three to five times a week. Golf can be a great option because it’s low-impact and allows you to get outside for some fresh air. There’s even a type of golf known as senior golf that plays more slowly for older players. Just make sure you talk with your doctor before taking up a new activity, particularly if you have heart or joint problems or other medical conditions that could be affected by physical activity.
The pace of fishing is nice and slow. It allows for time to think, relax and enjoy nature, helping to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Fishing is an especially good activity for people with CHF because it doesn’t require a lot of strenuous physical effort and gives your heart a chance to rest between contractions. After you’ve caught your fish, clean it and cook up a delicious dinner!
Whether you do it for exercise or relaxation, gardening is a great way to get your heart pumping and strengthen muscles. While planting and weeding, take endurance, digging and lifting compost or soil can get your blood moving fast. Regardless of which activity you choose, gardening is one of the most effective cardiovascular exercises out there—and its health benefits are just as beneficial to seniors as they are to people of all ages. One study found that gardening was associated with increased functional capacity and overall well-being among patients with CHF.
Playing brain games can start at any age. Memory games are a great way to keep your brain sharp, but they aren’t just for memory loss. It’s widely accepted that exercising your memory improves cognition in all areas of life. Plus, memory training is fun! With a computer and some free online cognitive exercises, you can play an array of puzzles and memory games to enhance different mental functions at any age.