Regular exercise is safe for some people with chronic heart failure, and it can significantly improve their quality of life, a new study shows.
About 5 million people nationwide have heart failure, in which their hearts have trouble pumping blood throughout their bodies. The condition often improves with healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.
Some small studies have hinted that these patients could also benefit from exercise training.
But many patients and their doctors have worried about the possible risks of exercise.
To investigate, NIH-supported scientists followed more than 2,300 patients with heart failure for up to 4 years. All were medically stable and received standard medical care. About half also received 36 sessions of exercise training (walking or stationary cycling) for up to 35 minutes, 3 times per week. They were then asked to exercise at home 5 times per week for the remainder of the study.
The exercise group scored significantly higher on a quality-of-life questionnaire throughout most of the study. The exercise training also proved to be well tolerated and safe.
The results suggest that regular aerobic exercise is not only safe for heart failure patients, but can also improve their lives in meaningful ways. If you have chronic heart failure, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.