Exercising with Heart Failure

You may believe that you have to be less active because you have heart failure. But in fact, exercise will help make your heart stronger. When you are active, you will feel better, have more energy, feel less tired, and have fewer symptoms. You should always talk to your doctor about how active you should be. You will work together to set a plan that meets your needs and is safe for your health.

There are many options for making activity part of your day. Look for a type of exercise you enjoy. There is a higher chance you will stay active if you are doing an activity that you enjoy. Great options to stay active, if your doctor approves, include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Light housework or gardening
  • If you have a hard time standing or get shortness of breath doing other exercise, try chair exercise such as moving your arms and legs while sitting

Many healthcare facilities and hospitals offer exercise classes in a safe, monitored environment. It can help you feel more comfortable to try an exercise program. Ask your doctor if you qualify.


It is important to keep track of your effort level during exercise, such as how hard you are breathing and how difficult it is to speak. While physical activity is good for your heart, you do not want to reach a point where you feel too tired or out of breath. Pace yourself and listen to your body. Exercising with a friend or family member can make it more enjoyable and help ensure your safety.

Know your limits! An active lifestyle is heart healthy as long as you listen to your body. If you ever feel pain or heaviness in your chest during exercise, stop right away and contact your doctor.

Track your activity with this guide.