15 | Special Topic Supplement: Vascular Diseases
he American Heart Association recommends
at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75
minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination of
the two) per week for heart health.
Getting enough physical activity is one of the best things
you can do for your health and it’s important to be sure that
when you exercise, you’re doing it safely. Before starting any
exercise program, heart patients or people with a specific
medical question should talk with their doctor about what is
safe for them to do.
WARM UP & COOL DOWN
Warm up before you begin your aerobic activity, and cool
down afterward. Give your body a chance to limber up by
starting your five- to 10-minute warm-up with light or moderate
activity. You can also walk slowly or decrease your activity level
for five to 10 minutes to cool down.
MONITOR HOW HARD YOU EXERCISE
A simple way to do this is to use the Borg Scale (below)
to tell if you’re exercising hard enough, but not too hard. The
scale helps you rate your level of physical effort from very, very
light to very, very hard. You’re exercising at the right level if your
ratings are between 11 (light) and 15 (hard).
While doing physical activity, rate your perception of
exertion. How heavy and strenuous does the exercise feel to
you while you’re doing it? Consider all of your sensations and
feelings of physical stress, effort, and fatigue. Do not focus on
any one factor such as leg pain or shortness of breath, try to
focus on your total feeling of exertion.
A healthy adult might perceive walking at a slow, leisurely
pace around a “ 9” on the Borg scale and very strenuous
activity – where they might have to push themselves to
continue — around a “ 17” on the scale. Since this is a scale of
how each individual is feeling during a specific activity, you may
perceive it differently.
WATCH FOR WARNING SIGNS OF TOO
MUCH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
• Angina (squeezing, burning, pressure, heaviness or
tightness under the breastbone, which may spread to
your left arm or shoulder, back, throat or jaw)
• Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or confused
• Feeling extremely tired after physical activity
• Unusual or extreme shortness of breath
• Fast or uneven heartbeats
If you notice these signs during or after physical activity,
stop and call your doctor right away. If you have angina that
doesn’t go away immediately when you rest, take nitroglycerin
if you have it. If your angina continues for more than five
minutes, or if you also have other symptoms such as nausea
and sweating, call 911 or your emergency response number.
You may be having a heart attack.
If you have pain or cramping in your calves, thighs and
buttocks during physical activity that goes away when you
rest, you may have peripheral artery disease (PAD). Leg pain
from PAD occurs in the muscles, not the joints. If you have
any leg pain or discomfort that recurs, be sure to tell your
doctor about it.
3 Ways to Be Sure
You Exercise Safely
6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light
9 Very Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard (heavy)
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximum exertion
Borg Scale Source: Borg G.A. Psychophysical
bases of perceived exertion. Medicine and Science
in Sports and Exercise. 1982; 14:377-381.