Keeping Active with Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath and even heart attacks. Living with CHD can be challenging, but staying active can have many benefits for both physical and mental health. 

Physical Benefits 

Strengthening the heart muscle: When you engage in physical activity, your heart pumps blood faster, which can help strengthen the heart muscle. This can improve blood flow to the heart and reduce the risk of future heart problems. 

Lowering blood pressure: Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, which is important for people with CHD. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the heart and increase the risk of heart attacks. 

Reducing cholesterol: Exercise can also help lower cholesterol levels, which can help reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries. 

Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight can put additional strain on the heart, so maintaining a healthy weight is important for people with CHD. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary. 

Improving energy levels: People with CHD often experience fatigue and low energy levels. Exercise can help improve energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue. 

Mental Benefits 

Reducing stress: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, which can be beneficial for people with CHD. Stress can increase the risk of heart problems and exacerbate symptoms. 

Improving mood: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that can improve mood and reduce feelings of depression. People with CHD may experience depression or anxiety related to their condition, so exercise can be a helpful tool in managing these feelings. 

Boosting self-confidence: When you engage in regular exercise, you may feel a sense of accomplishment and increased self-confidence. This can be particularly important for people with CHD, who may feel a sense of loss of control over their health. 

Providing social support: Engaging in physical activity with others can provide social support and a sense of community, which can be important for people with CHD. Social isolation can increase the risk of depression and anxiety, so staying connected with others is important for mental health. 

Tips for Staying Active 

Start slow: If you’re new to exercise or haven’t been active for a while, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your activity. 

Group walking

Find activities you enjoy: Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or feel like a chore. Find activities that you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or dancing, and incorporate them into your routine. Why not take a look at the How Are You website in your local district, this website lists lots of local activities that are great for your mental and physical health. 

Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. This can help keep you motivated and on track. 

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine: You don’t have to dedicate a specific time to exercise. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your destination, or taking a walk during your lunch break. 

Talk to your doctor: Before starting any new exercise program, talk to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you. They can provide guidance on how to exercise safely and effectively with CHD. You can also ask to be referred, or self-refer to the Healthy You service.