1. Include at least a five-minute warm-up and five-minute cool-down in every exercise session to reduce the likelihood of oxygen deprivation to the heart in response to a sudden physical effort or abrupt cessation of exercise.
2. Engage in moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days of the week.
3. Monitor exercise intensity closely. Make sure to stay within your individual heart-rate zone (usually determined from a treadmill test under the supervision of a physician).
4. Be cautious about engaging in vigorous physical activity. If you plan to begin a vigorous program, discuss it thoroughly with your physician. Also be sure to complete an exercise stress test first.
5. Inform your trainer and physician if you have any abnormal signs or symptoms before, during or after exercise. These include chest pain, extreme fatigue, indigestion or heartburn, excessive breathlessness, ear or neck pain, upper respiratory tract infection, dizziness or racing heart and severe headache.
6. If prescribed, always carry your nitroglycerin with you, especially during exercise.
7. Never exercise to the point of chest pain or angina. If you develop chest pain during exercise, call 911 immediately.
8. Make sure the facility where you exercise is well-equipped in case of an emergency. Ask if the facility has an emergency response plan and an automated external defibrillator (AED), as well as staff trained on how to use it on the premises.
It's never too late to start an exercise program or increase physical activity. In fact, combined with a healthy diet, it's the best choice you can make for your heart health. Work closely with your physician and other healthcare providers to start slow and gradually increase your exercise frequency and duration. And know that if you ever need an extra hand, you can find an ACE-certified Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist in your area.
For more information on heart-healthy living, visit www.ACEFit.com.
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