Starting a Walking Program

Shannon Donovan • 11 April 2022
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Regular exercise has so many wonderful benefits for your heart health and can be done safely while living with heart failure. And walking is a good exercise to start with for those with heart failure. The best part is you can pace yourself by starting slow and increase your pace and distance over time. 

To start walking for exercise, all you really need is a comfortable pair of shoes (preferably sneakers). That's just one reason that this low-impact, do-anywhere exercise is so popular. But the health benefits of walking are the real bonus. These benefits include: 

  • Reduce heart disease risk factors and the chance of having future heart problems
  • Strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Improve circulation and help the body use oxygen better
  • Help increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath
  • Improve muscle tone and strength
  • Improve balance and joint flexibility

But be sure to be safe while doing your walking program. Here are some safety tips:

  • Always warm up with five minutes of easy walking to prepare your muscles and heart for exercise. At the end, cool down by slowing your pace.
  • Don't push through fatigue. If you feel tired or have any heart symptoms, stop.
  • Walk in an indoor shopping mall if it is too cold, too snowy, or too hot to exercise outside. Ask your doctor if you should take any additional precautions

Another option is to talk to your healthcare provider to see if you qualify to participate in a Cardiac Rehabilitation program. This will provide you a safe program to get started and you will be monitored while exercising. 

Here are some websites with good information re: starting walking programs. 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/marching-orders-how-to-start-a-walking-program

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/heart/patient-education/recovery-care/heart-failure/exercise-activity