How to Workout with Medical Issues… Cardiovascular Disease

Nearly one in four Americans experiencing some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in their lifetime; with hypertension being the largest risk factor for CV. Thus it makes sense for us to take a look at hypertension and CVD and how to treat both through exercise.

Normal blood pressure is <130 mmHg Systolic and <90 mmHg Diastolic; and hypertension starts above 140 mmHg for Systolic and 90 mmHg for Diastolic. Regular exercise is believed to be the first line of defense to treat mild to moderate hypertension. Regardless of age, aerobic exercise in previously sedentary men and women decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6 to 10 mmHg; and results can be seen as quickly as 4 weeks of exercise. For people who stopped exercising, blood pressure returned to hypertensive states within a month. Resistance training will create a large increase in blood pressure while training, but will not result in an elevated resting blood pressure; some resistance training regiments have been show to lower resting blood pressure. The benefits of exercise for people with cardiovascular disease are:

  • Prevention of stroke
  • Regression of the hardening of your arteries
  • Prevention of heart disease
  • Decreased hypertension

The goal of an exercise regime for some with CVD is to improve one’s functional capacity, making everyday activity easier and more manageable. By getting on an exercise routine people can reduce the work that the heart has to do for any external exercise load; this is usually seen with a reduced heart rate & reduced blood pressure.

What should a cardiovascular workout look like for someone with CVD?

  • Frequency At least 3-5 times a week
  • Intensity 40-65% heart rate max or RPE 10 to 13 (out of 20)
  • Type Rhythmic large muscle groups that stimulate breathing
  • Time 20-30 continuous min per session
  • Progression May be cyclical with periods of regression depending on treatments

What should a weight workout look like for someone with CVD?

  • Frequency 2 nonconsecutive times a week
  • Intensity Low weights, 10-15 reps to moderate fatigue
  • Type Rhythmic large muscle groups that stimulate breathing (no isometric exercises)
  • Duration 1 set for each exercise, prevent carry over fatigue

If you have a family history of CVD or you presently have CVD you should be thinking about adding some light cardiovascular training to help stabilize your circulatory system and gradually try to increase duration and then intensity. Adding some weight work will also help get your body to a better functional condition, allowing you to enjoy your day and loved ones even more! If you have questions about how to exercise with cardiovascular disease please feel free to contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.



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