How Do You Strengthen Your Heart After Heart Failure?

Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022
How Do You Strengthen Your Heart After Heart Failure
Getting regular exercise and following a healthy diet can help to strengthen your heart after heart failure.

You can strengthen your heart after heart failure by making recommended changes to your diet, exercising regularly, and adopting healthy habits. These lifestyle changes can help:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Being physically active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Tracking your daily fluid intake
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine
  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting adequate rest
  • Monitoring blood pressure
  • Managing stress
  • Keeping track of symptoms
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Following up with your doctor

What is heart failure?

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood well as it should. As a chronic and progressive condition, it worsens over time and can damage other organs due to lack of adequate blood supply.

When the heart's pumping ability gets weakened, it can cause the following problems:

3 exercises to strengthen your heart after heart failure

Regular exercise can help strengthen your heart after heart failure by improving circulation and promoting blood flow. Exercises that are recommended include the following:

  1. Cardio or aerobics: Cardio exercises engage large muscle groups and can improve the way your body uses oxygen. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, riding a bike (outdoor or stationary), jumping rope, cross-country skiing, rowing, and water aerobics. Benefits of cardio include lowering heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and improving breathing.
  2. Flexibility: Exercises like stretching, yoga, and tai chi involve slow movements that lengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Benefits of this exercise include improved balance, range of motion, and joint mobility.
  3. Strength training: Strength training with weights or resistance bands involve repetitive muscle movements that tone your muscles and build stronger bones. It is advised not to use weights heavier than 10 pounds.

Tips for exercising after heart failure

After heart failure, any exercise or workout should be done only after your doctor has given you the go ahead. In most cases, doctors recommend waiting for at least 6 weeks before starting an exercise program. 

It’s important to take it slowly and make sure you are listening to your body. All exercises should include three phases:

  1. Warm-up: This should be done for about 5 minutes before starting to prepare your body for your workout. Warming up can reduce stress on your heart muscles and prevent sore muscles. Warm-up exercises include stretching, range-of-motion exercises, and low-intensity movements.
  2. Conditioning: This phase should include the actual exercise that should be continued for about 20-30 minutes. Conditioning exercises should be done until the recommended heart rate is achieved.
  3. Cool down: This phase should last about 5 minutes to help your body recover from the conditioning phase and allow your heart rate and blood pressure to return to normal. Decrease the intensity of exercise and repeat some of the stretching exercises during the warm-up phase. Avoid sitting before cooling down. This can make you feel dizzy or have heart palpitations.


In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

"Activity and exercise for patients with heart failure." University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. July 2, 2016. <>.

Piñna, Ileana L., et al. "Exercise and Heart Failure." Circulation 107.8 Mar. 4, 2003. <>.