Christine’s Heart Attack Survivor Story: “The emotional journey is the hardest part”
Active living after a heart attack
After a heart attack, you may be worried about the level of physical activity you can and can’t do. Working with your doctor to become active again can be a great way to recover and improve your sense of well-being.
You may want to consider starting by asking your doctor about cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation gives you access to a team of specialists who can provide a safe environment and a personalized action plan to resume physical activity.
Cardiac rehabilitation also helps with:
- Developing sustainable healthy behavior changes
- Reducing stress
- Managing personal risk factors
- Taking an active role in achieving your health goals
How to get started
If you get clearance from your healthcare team, begin by easing your way back to physical activity. When you think about physical activity, the first thing that might come to mind is throwing on your sneakers and hitting the gym. But depending on your treatment plan or your preferences, the gym may not be right for you. Here are some light activities you could ask your doctor about starting with:
- Walk around your house or neighborhood
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Play your favorite feel-good music and dance
- Plant a garden
- Do some light projects around the house like building a shelf or painting old furniture
Go easy on yourself
Remember that every step counts! Always be kind to yourself, know your limits, and stay safe. Start by setting a goal of 10 minutes of activity a day, then slowly build up your time as your comfort levels rise.
If you feel discomfort in any way, stop immediately and talk to your doctor for medical advice.
Get your friends and family moving
Getting your friends and family to become active with you is a great way to stay motivated and have fun. You’re more likely to stick with your fitness journey if you look forward to it. If you live far from friends or family, join a walking club or gardening club. Getting active is a great way to meet people who may be on the same health journey as you.
Ask your doctor about what activities you could start doing with your friends, family, or community.
How to create an active workplace
Many Americans who work in places where they’re mainly sitting for more than 8 hours don’t get proper daily activity. Not getting enough physical activity and sitting too much can increase your risk of a heart attack. Ask your doctor if some of these activities could be right for you to incorporate into your workday.
- Take a walking lunch break. Use 15 minutes to actually eat and use the rest of the time to take a brisk walk
- See if your workplace has a walking group. If they don’t, consider starting one
- Ask your coworkers if they would want to do a weekly walking meeting outdoors instead of inside