Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to fatigue and fluid retention. Because chronic heart failure patients often feel fatigued, it is usually difficult for them to participate in physical activity, which deconditions the body further and makes heart failure symptoms worsen. Although exercise has usually been frowned upon for heart failure sufferers, new research has found that exercise may help improve chronic heart failure.
In a recent study, 73 men with chronic heart failure, ages 70 or younger, were divided into two groups. The exercise group participated in a fitness program that had participants ride a stationary bike for 10 minutes, four to six times a day for the first two weeks of the study. After two weeks, the participants exercised at home for 20 minutes a day for six months. The physically inactive participants were in the control group. After the six-month study period, researchers found that heart failure improved for the participants in the exercise group, while heart failure worsened in the control group. In addition, the exercise group experienced improved circulation, lowered resting heart rate and physical activity was less stressful.
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