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Exercise Can Benefit Heart Failure

Senior doing yoga in her home
Heart failure is a major and increasingly common cardiovascular syndrome, and is the result of many cardiovascular disorders.

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One study says you shouldn't rule out exercising your right to maintain a "man-in-motion" routine as a step toward better health, but check with your doctor before you get moving. Remember, companionship could help improve motivation.

Q. I've always enjoyed exercise, but I recently have experienced heart failure. Is there any evidence that shows I could still benefit from continuing to exercise even as a 78-year-old man? I live alone, so I worry about the risks.

This is a subject you will need to discuss first and foremost with your doctor. But here's an interesting piece of news:

Aerobic exercise training appears safe for patients with heart failure and was associated with a modest reduction in the risk of death and hospitalization, with some improvement in quality of life, according to two articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Heart failure is a major and increasingly common cardiovascular syndrome, and is the result of many cardiovascular disorders. Guidelines recommend that exercise training be considered for medically stable outpatients with heart failure, but there have remained concerns regarding safety and uncertainty about clinical outcomes.

Christopher M. O'Connor, M.D., of Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C., and colleagues examined whether aerobic-type exercise training reduces all-cause death or all-cause hospitalization in patients with medically stable chronic heart failure due to systolic dysfunction (impaired contraction of the heart). There were 2,331 patients in the study with a median age of 59. They were randomly assigned to either usual care plus aerobic exercise or usual care alone.

Patients with heart failure who participated in aerobic exercise training had modest improvements in self-reported health status compared with those patients who did not have exercise training, according to the research. "The results demonstrate that participation in an exercise training program provides a modest but statistically significant improvement in patient-reported health status compared with usual care," the authors concluded.

Your doctor can let you know whether exercise is safe for you. Also, check out additional resources at

In the meantime, why not connect with others in a way that can help you feel safer and more secure in your home. One way to do that is by engaging the services of a caregiver companion. The local Home Instead® office hires CAREGiversSM who are screened, trained, bonded and insured. And they are equipped to help keep seniors independent for as long as possible.

To read more about this research, visit

Last revised: September 22, 2011

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