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Persons with Cardiovascular Conditions

Cardiovascular diseases can increase your chance of heart attack, stroke and even death. Up to 25% of Canadians have some form of cardiovascular disease, with it being more common as we get older.

There are many types of cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease, heart failure and high blood pressure, which is the most common. Each of these can limit the body's ability to transport oxygen and other important nutrients throughout the body. Some people have mild symptoms while others may have severe symptoms.

Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Diseases

Experts recommend that people with cardiovascular disease do regular physical activity to help manage their disease. Even when diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, regular exercise is safe and can improve:

  • The health of your heart and blood vessels
  • Physical fitness and function
  • Quality of life
  • Depression, tiredness and even how your brain functions

Experts recommend trying to get up to a total of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, per week.

If you have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, it is important to see your doctor first before starting a new exercise program.

Do activities you enjoy with family and friends to keep yourself motivated. Even doing a little bit of activity can have important health benefits.

Useful Resources

Heart Health Tips: Exercise (University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada)
A series of 9 short videos that give information about exercising with heart conditions.

Cardiac Rehabilitation: Physical Activity (University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada)
A 79 page PDF booklet that offers ideas on how to plan and continue with your exercise program. It includes worksheets and planning aids.

Taking Control of your Physical Recovery (Heart & Stroke, Canada)
A booklet that offers advice for starting an exercise program for people living with coronary artery disease. It includes sections that you can fill in your own information and pictures of specific exercises.

Coronary Disease Patient Guide - Physical Activity (University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada)
A webpage that uses both video and text to guide people living with coronary artery disease on how to start physical activity.

Heart Failure and Exercise (University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada)
A webpage that features a 10 minute video summarizing the guidelines for being active while living with heart failure.

Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit (University of Alberta, Canada)
This Toolkit consists of handouts on physical activity for high blood pressure (Topics F and G) and chronic heart failure (Topics M and N), which are intended to be used with a health care provider.

Physical activity after a heart attack (Heart Foundation, Australia)
A webpage that offers guidelines for people on how to exercise after a heart attack.

Physical Activity and Heart Failure (Queensland Health, Australia)
An 18 page booklet that describes heart failure and how it can affect your ability to be active. The booklet also offers suggestions on how to be more active.

Exercise, physical activity and your blood pressure (Blood Pressure UK, United Kingdom)
A website dedicated to blood pressure information. This page offers specific advice regarding physical activity and how it can positively affect your blood pressure.

Getting Active to Control High Blood Pressure (American Heart Association, USA)
A webpage that offers both broad and specific advice for getting active while living with high blood pressure.

Rx for Health Series (Exercise Is Medicine, USA)
This webpage consists of handouts on physical activity for various chronic conditions, including atrial fibrillation, heart failure, heart valve disease, and hypertension. The handouts are intended to be used with a health care provider and/or qualified exercise professional and available in English and Spanish.

Last updated: October 2023