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Is a “bad” heart stopping you from working out?

Coronary heart disease is a serious medical condition that affects nearly 18 million individuals in the US today. Does that mean these 18 million people can’t workout? Absolutely not! “Exercise is a major factor that appears to improve the stability of the [arterial] endothelium” (endothelium refers to the deep tissue of your arteries; NASM 392). But, some adjustments should be made to your fitness regimen. Here are some basic guidelines:

-Aerobic training should be performed for 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week at 40-80% of your maximum capacity.

-You should aim to burn between 1500 and 2000 calories a week.

-Resistance training can only be started after exercising comfortably for AT LEAST 3 months, with no negative symptoms. Then, you can start with 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps per exercise, making sure to control your breathing and rest in between sets. As with those with high blood pressure, resistance training should be performed in a circuit style or using Peripheral Heart Action (alternating between upper and lower body to circulate blood between the upper and lower extremities).

-Avoid heavy lifting and keep a loose grip on the weights.

-Start exercises in a seated position and slowly progress to standing.

The 2 most important things I want to mention with this population is to make sure to consult with your physician BEFORE beginning any workout regimen and to GO SLOW. Do what you can. Listen to your body’s signals. Be safe and stay active! 🙂


Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Corn, R.J. (2008). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

posted by admin in Heart Disease,Special Populations and have Comments (5)