Here’s the surprising truth about a heart attack. The most painful part isn’t the attack itself. And it’s not even what they do to you in the ER.
Sure, both of those can be pretty rough. But they’re nothing compared to what often comes next. And that, of course, is months of arduous rehab exercises, sometimes with a physical therapist rushing you and pushing you to your limit.
Many folks can’t handle it. And far too many heart patients quit and return to their old bad habits. That can land them right back where they started with more serious health problems and maybe even another heart attack on the horizon.
Now, new research reveals another option. It’s just as effective as those maniacal workouts or having that sadistic trainer pushing you to your breaking point.
But it doesn’t involve…
- special equipment
- a physical therapist or a personal trainer
And while it WILL keep you moving, there’s NO intense pain or extreme exhaustion to contend with, either.
A BETTER way to rehab after a heart scare
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a heart attack or have been diagnosed with heart disease and are trying to avoid one. The advice from your doctor will be the same.
Get moving—a lot. And many times, it’ll come with a referral to physical therapy or encouragement to rehab in a gym with a trainer.
Don’t get me wrong. Activity is absolutely critical for getting your heart function back online. It keeps your blood pumping and slashes your overall risk of something much worse down the road.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret. You DON’T have to put yourself through torture to get the job done.
The new study tested the kind of rigorous workout program typically given to heart patients against something much more accessible. In fact, you don’t need to make an appointment… shell out a copay… or even visit a gym to do it.
This one takes place much closer to home… maybe even right inside your home. All you have to do is walk up some flights of stairs.
Every gym – including the ones heart patients are sent to – has a stair-climber. And that little gadget often does play a role in those rigorous workout programs. But the new study tried it the old-fashioned way, with actual stairs and no other exercises.
Strap on your walking shoes and take the stairs
Some of the volunteers were asked to walk up six flights of 12 stairs each three times in a row. They recovered between each of the rounds with a bit of walking.
Now I know that might sound like a lot of stairs. And, I’ll admit, it is quite a few. But keep in mind this was the ONLY exercise the volunteers were asked to do. They rested between rounds. And best of all, they were even allowed to choose their own stepping pace.
Other participants in the study got a more typical gym-based exercise program. They were monitored and helped for the first four weeks. Then they were told to keep doing their workouts on their own for eight more weeks.
Both groups enjoyed very similar benefits. They gained better heart-lung function and increased their muscle mass. So if you’re not the go-to-the-gym type, hiking up the stairs might be the best option for you.
Support your heart AND skip the gym
If you want to give it a try, check with your doctor first. And certainly, don’t push yourself too hard. Remember, the volunteers in the study were told to take the stairs at their own pace. When you’re climbing 18 flights in total, taking it slow will still give you a decent workout.
And if THAT much stair climbing isn’t appealing, try cutting back on the steps and trade them in for a few of these “no time for a workout” moves instead. You’ll still be getting the benefits of the brief, vigorous exercise like were seen in the study, but you won’t get bored doing it.
Just one note of caution. Many heart patients are on meds that can make them feel a little unsteady, especially shortly after swallowing a dose. If your own head is swimming a little, hold off until you’re feeling steady on your feet. And always make sure the handrail is within reach, in any case.
And if your meds are making you too dizzy too often, talk to your doc about a prescription adjustment. Or… better yet… ask about some non-drug options that can give you the same benefits without all the side effects.
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