Spring has finally arrived. Start now to prepare your heart for milder temperatures.
If you’ve spent the winter months hibernating, there’s no need to rush back outside and overdo it in the yard, says cardiologist Richard Krasuski, MD.
“There are a lot of folks who spend their winters doing very little. They may spend their time sitting and watching TV, and not really getting out and getting much exercise,” Dr. Krasuski says. “Then spring rolls around and they want to go back to doing what they were doing before winter, whether it’s lifting weights, exercising, or getting out in the yard and doing some yard work.”
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Work up to it
It’s important to gradually work up to a level of fitness. If you are not used to regular aerobic exercise, sudden and strenuous physical exertion can lead to a heart attack.
Resuming warm-weather activities after a winter spent on the couch? Here are some warning signs that should prompt a call to your doctor:
- Experiencing pressure in the chest or shortness of breath
- A sense that your exercise capacity isn’t quite what it was in the fall
- Feeling more tired working in the yard than you did last year
Gradual vs. sudden onset
If these symptoms come on gradually, contacting your primary care physician is a good first step, Dr. Krasuski says. These symptoms may or may not signal heart issues. But it’s important to tell your doctor about them.
But if these symptoms come on suddenly and strong and then persist, consider it an emergency, Dr. Krasuski says.
“If you start feeling things like chest pressure, shortness of breath, and the symptoms don’t go away after you stop and rest, those are signs that you really need to call 9-1-1,” Dr. Krasuski says.
Start your exercise routine now
It’s a good idea to start an exercise routine now to get in shape for the yard work and other warm-weather activities ahead, Dr. Krasuski says.
You need to move at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes a day for five days every week to reap real health benefits. That might mean taking an exercise class, lifting weights or simply walking the neighborhood. The key to success is to find a routine that works for you and gradually build up toward your goal.
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