5 Ways to Get Started with Exercise

Start a new exercise routine with these tips

Are you thinking about starting a new exercise routine? You may have heard people talk about the benefits of exercise, but what does that really mean?

Physical activity can strengthen our hearts, improve overall well-being, and increase energy levels. And guess what? You don’t have to start running a marathon to reap these benefits. Even a little bit of exercise can go a long way in improving health.

And the other good news? These benefits are not specific to certain groups of people. Everyone can benefit from some type of exercise. In fact, it is especially important for people with heart failure to stay physically active. However, when thinking of new ways to include exercise in your daily routine, it is important to remember that starting slow is best. When starting a new routine, it’s smart to take it easy, build up strength, and, as always, consult your doctor before trying something new. Getting started may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some tips and tricks to help you get moving!

1. Talk to your doctor about how much exercise you should be getting.

First things first: talk to your doctor about how many times per week you should exercise and for how long. You can also ask your doctor about cardiac rehab. Some insurance providers cover a certain number of supervised cardiac rehab sessions to help people with heart failure start a new exercise routine in a controlled environment. Remember, everyone has different comfort levels and health needs. Work with your doctor to discuss safe types of activities, learn what’s best for your body, and figure out a plan that works best for you.

2. Start with small things.

Making small changes in your daily routine can help strengthen your heart and result in other health benefits. Some of these simple changes include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing chair exercises while seated. Every little bit helps!

3. Find activities you enjoy.

Finding an activity you enjoy can take the burden out of exercising. For example, you may enjoy yard work or gardening – two great ways to exercise, while also being productive and getting fresh air. Other activities include swimming, bike riding, walking, and yoga. Remember, you do not have to do high-intensity sports to reap the benefits of exercise.

4. Find an exercise buddy.

Accountability is key when it comes to exercise. Ask a friend, colleague, or family member to be active with you to help pass the time and keep you on track. Have a regular time and meeting place to help make this part of your routine.

5. Start an exercise journal.

Keeping a journal can help you track your fitness progress. Write down every time you exercise, noting the activity you did, how long you did it, and how you felt while doing it. You can use this activity tracker as a guide. Just remember, if you experience any pain or difficulty breathing or speaking while exercising, stop and talk to your doctor.

One last thing to remember: every person has different needs. What works for your friend or family member, may not be fitting for you, and vice versa. What’s most important is that your routine is right for you!

Visit the CONNECT-HF healthy living tips page for more ideas like these.

First patient has joined the CONNECT-HF trial

The CONNECT-HF trial team is excited to announce that the first patient has signed up to take part in CONNECT-HF! This patient is the first of 8,000 people who will take part in the nationwide clinical trial. The goal of the trial is to help improve the care and resources available to people who are leaving the hospital after receiving treatment for heart failure.

Why is CONNECT-HF being done?

Nearly 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, and heart failure is one of the most common reasons for hospital stays. Even though heart failure is very common, the care and resources available to people with heart failure have been limited in the past.

The CONNECT-HF trial team hopes to change that by looking at different plans of care for people with heart failure, to see what works best. The goal is to figure out how to provide the best care possible to people with heart failure, to help improve their health, and to help keep them out of the hospital in the future.

The first patient has signed up, so what happens next?

People who join CONNECT-HF will take part in the trial for one year after they leave the hospital. During that year, CONNECT-HF researchers will collect information from the participant about how they are feeling and whether they have had to go to the hospital for heart failure again.

The CONNECT-HF trial team will continue to enroll patients in the trial over the next three years. This will help researchers learn more about how to improve care for people with heart failure.

How do people sign up to take part?

Nationwide, 160 hospitals will be part of CONNECT-HF. If a doctor in one of those hospitals thinks a patient receiving treatment for heart failure may be a good fit for the trial, then a member of the CONNECT-HF trial team will speak to the patient about whether they may be interested in taking part.

CONNECT-HF Patient Advisers Meet in Durham, NC

This February, six of the eight patient advisers from the CONNECT-HF trial traveled to Durham, North Carolina to meet with the trial team at Duke Clinical Research Institute and provide input to help improve the trial experience for participants. The advisers, who have called themselves the Cardi-Yacks, traveled from across the United States to meet each other and the trial team in person for the first time, after many months of working together through phone calls and emails.

The Cardi-Yacks and trial team got to know each other over dinner, then spent the next day together for a series of working sessions. Through a mix of one-on-one interviews, focus group discussion, and written comments, the Cardi-Yacks gave feedback on everything from the informed consent process, to the materials that will be given to participants during the trial, to the overall design and interventions of the trial. The feedback that the Cardi-Yacks provided has been invaluable in helping the trial team develop materials that will provide the right information, in the clearest format, to participants who take part in CONNECT-HF.

In addition to providing their feedback, the Cardi-Yacks sat down for video interviews to talk about their unique experience as people with heart failure, as well as their involvement with the CONNECT-HF trial. View highlights from the Cardi-Yack videos here. Before their trip home, the Cardi-Yacks all got together for a fun afternoon touring Durham and Duke University by bus.

The meeting was a great opportunity for the CONNECT-HF trial team to gain perspective from a patient’s point of view and make improvements to the trial before patient enrollment. The CONNECT-HF trial team looks forward to continuing the partnership with the Cardi-Yacks as the trial progresses.

Here is some news for testing

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