Answering the question what is the best exercise following a stent really depends on you and what you did physically before your stent. Prior to my stent I trained regularly about five times per week. After my stent I was back in the gym within a week. I’m certain that being physically fit prior to my stent helped tremendously in my recovery. That’s me though, everyone is not the same and as I said above the best type of training following a stent depends on you!
So why is exercise important after a stent?
The general consensus in the medical world is that exercise is good for hearts including hearts that have been stented or had other procedures such as by-pass surgery.
Your heart is a muscle (a very special muscle but nevertheless a muscle). The average heart beats 72 times per minute. Below is a calculation showing how many times the average heart beats in an average 52 year life time:
in 1 min = 72
in 1 hour = 72 * 60 = 4320
in 1 day = 72 * 60 *24 = 103680
in 1 year = 72 * 60 * 24 * 365 = 37843200
in Avg life span = 72 * 60 * 24 * 365 * 52 = 1967846400
As you can see, the heart is an amazing piece of engineering a muscular pump like no other pump, and like all muscles it needs exercise to keep it strong. You only get one heart and you need to look after it.
The level of exercise you should do depends on how conditioned you and your heart are. If you have never exercised it would not be a good idea to do extreme training (especially following a stent).
What level of exercise?
Fitness levels vary, I know people who have had stents but who have not done any exercise for years. Exercise for them needs to be light but regular to start with. Walking is a great way to start exercising again and this can be done only a few days after your stent placement providing you feel up to it. Most people are unsure of what exactly to do following a stent. Depending on where you live there may be cardiac rehabilitation clinics, check them out it will be well worth it. They will advise you on a structured exercise programme to assist your recovery but will also monitor you progress and support you through your recovery phase. If you do not have a facility such as this, speak to your Cardiologist or doctor for advice and support. As a rule any form of exercise done regularly is good, walking is great, swimming is great. I found riding a bike and using a cross trainer in the gym worked for me because I was able to control the level of resistance.
The golden rule when starting to exercise is to listen to your body, take it slow and don’t rush it. It took years for the artery to be come narrowed in the first place, you don’t want to mess things up now by doing too much too soon.
So what if you were fit and active before your stent?
Same as above, you still have to listen to your body and take it easy. Your aim is to get back you your normal routine as soon as possible. There is no time scale on this some people will do it quickly some will take longer. It really depends on what you have had done to your heart, if you are having a stent post heart attack, have had multiple stent placements or have a lack of energy or feel lethargic you progress will be slower.
Establishing an exercise routine is vital to you future recovery. The key if there is one is finding an activity that you are passionate about. If you can do this, before you know it you will be in the habit of exercising and will probably keep it up for the rest of your life. Taking action is the vital first step to your success and ultimately to remaining healthy in the future.
Are there any precautions I should take?
After you have a stent placement, you are normally prescribed anti-clotting medications for a period to avoid life-threatening blood clots. Any injury received during exercise can be dangerous when you are on this type of medication, so as we have said above you should discuss appropriate physical activity with your rehab specialist, cardiologist or doctor. It is recommended that you avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting for a short time after a stent procedure and stop exercising immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort in you chest. Your cardiologist can tell you when physical activity is safe.
What will exercise do for you?
I’ve said a lot about exercising following a stent but what will exercise actually do for you? What will you get out of all this huffing and puffing and sweating? Exercise is not just good for your heart it is also good for you as a whole. Here are a few of the benefits you can get from regular exercise:
- It helps to reduce stress
- It helps with Joint lubrication and increased range of motion for those of us with arthritis
- It helps rebuild bone for those of us with osteoporosis
- It helps to strengthen abdominal muscles for those of us with lower back pain weakness
- It helps to relieve constipation
- It boosts your immune system
- It improves sleep
- It helps to keep blood pressure under control
- It helps in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides and can help prevent artery clogging and damage
For anyone who has undergone stent placement, exercise is an essential part of the long term recovery of your heart. Ignore it at your peril. Knowing What is the Best Exercise Following A Stent is can make all the difference to you and your future well-being.