Maintaining Your
Health and Wellness

Learning how to live with heart failure is not easy, but following proper exercise and healthy eating guidelines will be an important part of keeping you active and feeling good throughout your journey.
Learning how to live with heart failure is not easy, but following proper exercise and
healthy eating guidelines will be an important part of keeping you active and feeling
good throughout your journey.

Overview

As a patient with heart failure, it’s important that you stay active and eat healthy throughout your journey. In this section, we will explore the exercises your doctor may prescribe and the dietary changes you may need to stay safe and healthy.

Fitness

Learn more about how to safely stay active and maintain proper fitness.

Healthy Eating

Learn more about proper nutrition and eating right to keep you healthy.

Lifestyle

Learn more about ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle when living with heart failure.

Fitness

Brought to you by the ACTION team, starring Justine Shertzer, a pediatric exercise physiologist and a member of ACTION, and Julian Lerner, an actor, singer, musician, and ACTION Ambassador, these videos are intended to be used by both healthy kids and heart patients, under the advisement of their care team.  Exercise is vital to heart health, and these arm, leg and cardio exercises can be performed anytime, anywhere, with or without equipment. Follow along with these exercises and do them in sets for extra heart health benefits!  

Videos for stretching, warm-up, and full body, are coming soon!

Stay safe!  Ask your care team if these exercises are right for you.

ARMS

Play Video

YTW

Play Video

Bicep Curl

Play Video

Tricep Dip

LEGS

Play Video

Calf Raises

Play Video

Curtsy Squats

CARDIO

Play Video

Hopscotch

Play Video

Leap Frog

Play Video

Star Jump

  Scroll down to explore ways to be active.

Activity

If approved by your care team, it’s important to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. But it doesn’t have to be all at once. Short bursts of exercise are great, too!

Even as a patient with heart disease, you can safely exercise in non-competitive, low or moderate intensity activities. Ask your doctor for exercises that are safe for you.

Here are some ways to be active:

  • Moving and Playing at Home: Taking the stairs, playing outside or at recess, and helping with chores are great ways to get small amounts of activity throughout the day.
  • Steps and Walking: Counting your steps with a wearable monitor (like an Apple watch or FitBit) is a great way to check your progress. Children should aim for 12,000 steps per day.
  • Recreational Sports: Participating in low-pressure sports where you can easily take breaks if needed is another great way to stay active. Walking, jogging, and biking are all safe too.
  • Competitive Sports: In some cases, playing and training with a competitive team and performing at a high level may also be possible if your doctor clears you.

Exercises

There are two different forms of exercise to include in your daily routines: aerobic and strengthening. Ask your care team which type of exercise is right for you.

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercise makes you breathe fast and sweat. Because your heart is a muscle, it’s important that your heart gets a workout. Aerobic exercises are a great way to do that. There are three main levels of aerobic exercises:

  • Low intensity: You can still sing while you exercise. Walking is a great low intensity exercise.
  • Moderate intensity: You can talk in sentences without feeling too out of breath. Jogging is a typical moderate intensity exercise.
  • High intensity: If you’re exercising at a high intensity level, you have trouble talking in full sentences. Running often puts you at the high intensity level of exercise.

Strengthening Exercise

Strengthening exercises make you pull or push using your muscles. Keeping a strong, healthy body is important during your journey. Strengthening exercises can help you do that!
There are two ways you can perform strengthening exercises: with just your body weight or with heavier weights. Your care team may guide you toward strength exercises that are right for you.

  • Body weight: Exercises that use your body weight include jumping, pushups, and sit-ups.
  • Heavier weight: Exercises that would require you to use heavier weights, like handheld weights, might include squats and bench presses.

Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important that no matter what exercises you do, you do them safely.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you exercise:

  • It’s okay to: sweat, feel a little breathless, and have mild soreness.
  • It’s important to: drink water, avoid excessive heat, and take breaks as needed.
  • You should NEVER: feel squeezing chest pain or dizziness. Be sure to talk with your care team about the right types and amounts of exercise for you.

Activity

If approved by your care team, it’s important to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. But it doesn’t have to be all at once. Short bursts of exercise are great, too!

Even as a patient with heart disease, you can safely exercise in non-competitive, low or moderate intensity activities. Ask your doctor for exercises that are safe for you.

Here are some ways to be active:

  • Moving and Playing at Home: Taking the stairs, playing outside or at recess, and helping with chores are great ways to get small amounts of activity throughout the day.
  • Steps and Walking: Counting your steps with a wearable monitor (like an Apple watch or FitBit) is a great way to check your progress. Children should aim for 12,000 steps per day.
  • Recreational Sports: Participating in low-pressure sports where you can easily take breaks if needed is another great way to stay active. Walking, jogging, and biking are all safe too.
  • Competitive Sports: In some cases, playing and training with a competitive team and performing at a high level may also be possible if your doctor clears you.

Exercises

There are two different forms of exercise to include in your daily routines: aerobic and strengthening. Ask your care team which type of exercise is right for you.

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercise makes you breathe fast and sweat. Because your heart is a muscle, it’s important that your heart gets a workout. Aerobic exercises are a great way to do that. There are three main levels of aerobic exercises:

  • Low intensity: You can still sing while you exercise. Walking is a great low intensity exercise.
  • Moderate intensity: You can talk in sentences without feeling too out of breath. Jogging is a typical moderate intensity exercise.
  • High intensity: If you’re exercising at a high intensity level, you have trouble talking in full sentences. Running often puts you at the high intensity level of exercise.

Strengthening Exercise

Strengthening exercises make you pull or push using your muscles. Keeping a strong, healthy body is important during your journey. Strengthening exercises can help you do that!
There are two ways you can perform strengthening exercises: with just your body weight or with heavier weights. Your care team may guide you toward strength exercises that are right for you.

  • Body weight: Exercises that use your body weight include jumping, pushups, and sit-ups.
  • Heavier weight: Exercises that would require you to use heavier weights, like handheld weights, might include squats and bench presses.

Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important that no matter what exercises you do, you do them safely.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you exercise:

  • It’s okay to: sweat, feel a little breathless, and have mild soreness.
  • It’s important to: drink water, avoid excessive heat, and take breaks as needed.
  • You should NEVER: feel squeezing chest pain or dizziness. Be sure to talk with your care team about the right types and amounts of exercise for you.

Healthy Eating

  Scroll down to explore how you can practice mindful eating.

Nutrition

Mindful eating is knowing what you’re eating and how much. Here are some ways to be more mindful as you eat:

  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition labels on your food can tell you a lot about what you’re eating. Learning to read these labels can help you avoid excess sugar, fat, salt, and calories in your diet. The example nutrition label (below) shows you more about what you can learn when you take a closer look.
  • Eat healthier foods: Did you know that more natural foods are found around the outside edge of the grocery store? That means the processed foods are in the center aisles. Try spending more time shopping around the outside edge. This can help you get more natural grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet.
  • Drink healthier: Choose water, skim milk / milk alternative, or seltzer water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Eat less sugar: Eat food with 5 grams or less of added sugar per serving.
  • Avoid trans fats: Avoid foods with trans fat, like hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. When cooking, use canola oil or olive oil.
  • Plan meals ahead: Planning your meals ahead of time can help you make better choices. You can even try using an app or website for ideas and shopping lists that can help you plan.
  • Avoid eating out: Try to eat at restaurants as little as possible. If you do eat out, take some home. Restaurant portion sizes are often larger than the healthy recommendations. That means you’re eating more sugar, salt, fat, and calories than you should in a healthy meal.

Portion Control

Focusing on portion control is an important part of mindful eating. Let’s look at some ways we can manage our portions:

  • Watch serving size: A serving size is the amount of food listed on the “Nutrition Facts” label. Some foods come in more than one serving, like candy bars and bags of chips. Looking at the nutrition label can help you make sure you only eat one serving at a time.
  • Watch portion size: A portion size is the amount you actually choose to eat. Try to stick closely to the serving size.
  • Measure your portions: Portions can be measured with spoons and cups or estimated with familiar objects. For example, a good portion of whole grain cereal is the size of your fist.
  • Eat from a plate: One way to make sure you stick to the serving size is to eat from a plate instead of from the package.
  • Drink between bites: Taking a drink between bites can help you slow down while you eat and help you control portion size.
  • Eat slowly: Eating slowly means your body can tell you when you’re full before you’ve eaten too much. After eating a portion, rest for a few minutes. If you feel full, you really don’t need any more.
  • Eat 3 meals a day: Try to stick to 3 meals a day plus one snack if you feel hungry.

Remember, food is fuel for an active body. Get up and move throughout the day, even for small activities or short walks.

Nutrition

Mindful eating is knowing what you’re eating and how much. Here are some ways to be more mindful as you eat:

  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition labels on your food can tell you a lot about what you’re eating. Learning to read these labels can help you avoid excess sugar, fat, salt, and calories in your diet. The example nutrition label (below) shows you more about what you can learn when you take a closer look.
  • Eat healthier foods: Did you know that more natural foods are found around the outside edge of the grocery store? That means the processed foods are in the center aisles. Try spending more time shopping around the outside edge. This can help you get more natural grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet.
  • Drink healthier: Choose water, skim milk / milk alternative, or seltzer water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Eat less sugar: Eat food with 5 grams or less of added sugar per serving.
  • Avoid trans fats: Avoid foods with trans fat, like hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. When cooking, use canola oil or olive oil.
  • Plan meals ahead: Planning your meals ahead of time can help you make better choices. You can even try using an app or website for ideas and shopping lists that can help you plan.
  • Avoid eating out: Try to eat at restaurants as little as possible. If you do eat out, take some home. Restaurant portion sizes are often larger than the healthy recommendations. That means you’re eating more sugar, salt, fat, and calories than you should in a healthy meal.

Portion Control

Focusing on portion control is an important part of mindful eating. Let’s look at some ways we can manage our portions:

  • Watch serving size: A serving size is the amount of food listed on the “Nutrition Facts” label. Some foods come in more than one serving, like candy bars and bags of chips. Looking at the nutrition label can help you make sure you only eat one serving at a time.
  • Watch portion size: A portion size is the amount you actually choose to eat. Try to stick closely to the serving size.
  • Measure your portions: Portions can be measured with spoons and cups or estimated with familiar objects. For example, a good portion of whole grain cereal is the size of your fist.
  • Eat from a plate: One way to make sure you stick to the serving size is to eat from a plate instead of from the package.
  • Drink between bites: Taking a drink between bites can help you slow down while you eat and help you control portion size.
  • Eat slowly: Eating slowly means your body can tell you when you’re full before you’ve eaten too much. After eating a portion, rest for a few minutes. If you feel full, you really don’t need any more.
  • Eat 3 meals a day: Try to stick to 3 meals a day plus one snack if you feel hungry.

Remember, food is fuel for an active body. Get up and move throughout the day, even for small activities or short walks.

Lifestyle