Best Exercises for Heart Failure 

Posted: 9/24/2021 5:07 PM by Interim HealthCare

Physical activity is important for everyone, even when you have heart failure.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with heart failure, light to moderate exercise will slow their heart rate, open their arteries and reduce shortness of breath. This means less time spent in the hospital and possibly a longer life, so Mom and Dad can keep doing the activities they love!


The key to a better quality of life is to exercise smartly: ask your family doctor which activities are safe and make sure your senior loved one starts out slowly. Encourage them to begin exercising for only a few minutes at a comfortable rate, then each day, gently try to increase the length of time and the intensity of their workout.


Getting Started 


The ideal target for patients with mild to moderate heart failure is 30 minutes of low-impact exercise, five days a week. This could include physical activities such as walking, cycling or swimming. As a caregiver, it’s important to help your loved one lead an enriched life, so try and find an activity they truly enjoy doing. 


Need some inspiration? These three types of exercise are perfect for seniors and are aimed at making the heart and body stronger:




Exercises like yoga use meditation, breathing exercises, and slow movements to improve balance, loosen joints, and help with range of motion. For heart failure patients, practising yoga regularly, can result in a host of benefits, from greater flexibility to lower stress and better sleep.

For safety reasons, it's highly advisable your loved one begins their yoga journey by taking an in-person class from an experienced teacher. Plus, many older adults enjoy the social aspect of a class and getting together with other seniors who share their interests.


As a supportive caregiver, you can help find activites Mom and Dad will enjoy in their community. One option is to contact local yoga studios, community centers, or health clubs to see what they offer. Remember to look out for programs such as ‘beginner’ or ‘gentle yoga for seniors’.




Regular cardio exercise is used in heart failure patients to strengthen the heart muscle and improve circulation. Walking is always a great place to start and as well as improving fitness, can also have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.


If your senior loved one is new to exercise, keep it light. Ten minutes a day is a good place to start - as long as they can comfortably carry on a conversation as they exercise. 

Bike, dance, swim, garden, or bowl -- they’re all heart-healthy! And if your loved one chooses something they enjoy, they’re much more likely to stick with it. 




This kind of exercise uses weight to tone muscles and build stronger bones. For seniors with heart failure, resistance bands and light weights can be used to strengthen the body’s big muscle groups, including the heart. 


It's important to speak to a doctor before your loved one begins a strength training program, as some heart failure patients may be advised against lifting anything over a certain weight. 


Safety First


As with all forms of exercise, rest and recovery is extremely important, so make sure your loved one takes it slow and doesn’t over-exert themselves.


If you notice Mom or Dad experiencing any heart failure symptoms, including excessive shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations that do not go away, or increasing fatigue, stop the exercise and notify their doctor right away.


We Are Here to Support Your Family After a Heart Failure Diagnosis


Here at Interim HealthCare, our senior home care services help your loved one live comfortably and safely. We can support heart failure patients with daily tasks, such as fixing food, getting dressed, running errands, housekeeping and attending classes, providing your family with much-needed peace of mind. To learn more, contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location.


Looking for reliable sources of support for caring for someone with heart failure? Download our Heart failure Caregivers Guide for tips and tools on how to become an informed and compassionate caregiver.