Can I do sport if I have a cardiovascular disease?

Regular physical activity is part of the treatment of some cardiovascular diseases and can be as important as medication.

In fact, practicing some gentle sport, such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or gentle gymnastics, is one of the main factors in taking control of our health. Diet control and, if necessary, treatment with medication will also help.

The fact of doing some sport:

  • Improves glycemic control in patients with diabetes.
  • Lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
  • Lowers bad cholesterol levels
  • Helps to raise the levels of good cholesterol in the blood.
  • Allows weight loss
  • Helps quit smoking

What sports can people with cardiovascular disease do?

Patients with cardiovascular disease should choose their sport according to their physical condition, health and, above all, their tastes and hobbies. It is important that, if the patient has not practiced any sport for some time, he/she should start progressively after seeking advice from the cardiology specialist. It may also be necessary to do a stress test before going to the cardiologist’s office.

Some recommended sports are cycling, swimming, brisk walking or running. If, due to age or illness, it is not possible to exert oneself, it is sufficient to walk at the pace that one can. The important thing is to do some physical activity at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.

Bad weather is no excuse, there are many sports that can be practiced indoors: treadmill, stretching, swimming, gymnastics, aquagym, yoga… On the other hand, sports that involve sudden stops and starts, such as tennis or soccer, are not recommended, unless the doctor agrees.

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It is advisable to do sports activities in a group (in a gym, for example), in order to maintain motivation. It is also necessary to organize oneself to practice sports reasonably, without excesses.

Sports recommendations for patients with cardiovascular disease

There are certain recommendations that patients with cardiovascular disease should follow when practicing sports:

  • Do not start doing from one day to the next a sport that has not been practiced for 10-20 years.
  • Gradually resume the sport practiced some time ago.
  • Do not make efforts without having previously warmed up. To do one hour of sport you should warm up for at least 20 minutes.
  • Finish the exercise with, at least, a recovery time of about 10 minutes.
  • Do not take a sauna after exercising.
  • Avoid going to very closed places.
  • Avoid heavy exertion in extreme weather conditions (in direct sunlight or if it is very cold, for example).
  • Be careful with the days and areas with pollution peaks (follow the recommendations).
  • In patients who smoke, try to avoid smoking two hours before and two hours after exercise.
  • Carry out regular gentle endurance physical activity, which will reduce the risk of having a cardiovascular event.