Need help/resources to do Cardio Reha... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Need help/resources to do Cardio Rehab at home


I am 48 years and was a seemingly healthy full-time professional travelling frequently, with a daughter at school and another at Uni, before I found out I needed surgery, just a week before I had it! I had a quadruple heart bypass just over 7 weeks ago and I won't be able to go for Cardio Rehab because of the coronavirus pandemic. I managed to get a session doing the paperwork with the physio and she told me to try to exercise between 103-118 bpm. She gave me a sheet with warm up exercises and verbally described the 5 exercises I would have done at the classes.

Apart from missing the opportunity to meet with others in a similar situation, when I started gently walking 1 km round a local NT woodland walk, I couldn't get my bpm above 95 without getting to 13 on the Borg scale. So this week I wanted to try an exercise routine and hashed something together but I wondered if anyone could point me to any resources with workouts not requiring equipment providing an appropriate level of exercise. I saw another post suggesting Joe on You Tube, is there anything else, preferably not requiring too much jumping and respecting the lack of equipment (I do have dumbbells) which anyone can suggest?

I think I just need a little reassurance and any tips on how to motivate myself to do this. I am not working, but I am isolated with my family who are are working or doing school work, and I want to do my exercise, take a walk later in the day and then be able to manage the other demands on my time such as meals and being there for my family in this rather uncertain time.

48 Replies

Hi, my husband has 5 stent procedure on Jan 20, 2020 and did cardiac rehab at the hospital in Philippines, but managed to do some on his own for a month before coming home. What I helped him do is some stretches especially in the beginning the first months. Neck stretches, arm stretches, lunges but not too much, and we usually walked back and fourth. When we came home (Northern Mariana Islands) we took a walk by the beach (not the sand) and back home. About a mile. We took our time. He couldnt walk too fast cause his chest would hurt but after another month of that one mile we took an alternate route also one mile for a change of scene and a bit of elevation. It helped :)

Thanks chamoru670

You do need the actual advice from your team to match your circumstances, however I would say it is more important to work to the BORG scale than a target heart rate. Learning to pace yourself is very important, as is good warm up and cool down. It is the frequent repetition of exercising with small incremental pushing of boundaries that will recondition your cardiovascular system and muscle - which will take a while, you build up to it over a number of weeks.

Thanks - that helps “frequent repetition of exercising with small incremental pushing of boundaries. ” Unfortunately I don’t have a ‘team.’

HiddenThis reply has been deleted
Tillymint1971 in reply to Hidden

Thanks HappyJo. Appreciated. Feeling a little cut off from usual ‘team’, in fact, like I have been cut loose. But given the circumstances have turned to www and you have all been very helpful. I have an Apple Watch so can monitor bpm.

Hi. Just to echo the point about using the Borg RPE scale and not to worry about your heart rate. Your daily walking routine gradually expanding seems a good one to me. And do remember to warm up gently and to cool down gently. Cardio rehab really isn’t very strenuous it’s just a way of getting you moving again. I wouldn’t suggest PE teacher Joe at this stage or anything that raises your arms above your shoulders. I got a stationary exercise bike and found that was a good way of gently exercising when I had my heart attack and stent.

Thanks - relieved I can focus on Borg scale, bpm target seems like overdoing it.

Neel1 in reply to NorthantsSteve

Hi! My recommended heart rate was not to go above 108. My ha was in 11/12/19. Do you think I could go above 108 if comfortable?

NorthantsSteve in reply to Neel1

Hi. I wouldn’t like to say as you really need a specialist who knows the ins and outs of your condition. When I had my cardio the physio said not to worry about heart rate but to focus on how we felt. And not to push it too much in the early stages.

Neel1 in reply to NorthantsSteve


Make sure it is a brisk walk, you should be sweating but not out of breath. Check at the "BHF cardio rehab at home" videos in Youtube. Buy some hand weights or use bags of sugar, tins of beans etc. If you have stairs, do step exercises, go up and down the lower step multiple times. Kick off maybe doing 5 minutes at a time and gradually increase this. Let your body be your guide in terms of pain, etc. Good luck. don't think you need a gym at this time and the videos will replicate cardio rehab.

Thanks - have now found videos and exercises on BHF website - lots of 10 minute workouts and useful exercises. Should I put these together to make 30 mins? How long would you rest between ‘sets’?

Cardio rehab would do about 10 mins of warm up exercises and then about 35 - 40 minutes of circuit training (step exercises, cycling, stretches, lunges, marching on the spot lifting hand weights and push up off the wall, etc.) followed by a gentle cool down for 5 - 10 mins. Give yourself a couple of mins between sets, ensure you have a drink at hand and stay hydrated. Key is to go at a gentle pace to start and build these up daily. your body will let you know if you are over doing it. I found a brisk walk and step exercises challenging enough in the first few weeks as my lung capacity was knackered but as they show you on the videos it is important to do some stretch exercises.

Thanks Martin OG - I have the warm up exercises I was given by the physio and your answer is really helpful.

Hello Tillymints1971. Not sure if it would help but i have found lots of keep fit on youtube. Just moving to music. If you put in youtube. Walkathome. There are 4 different levels there for different ages. Hope this helps. Brian

Found the Walk at Home videos, thanks. They look really good.

Hope they help.i have Severe COPD. so not easy but doing the 20 mins workout. Sadly i am getting to old to get down on the floor for pressups. I have trouble getting back up lol. Good luck stay well. Brian

Go to heart matters magazine on line and you will find lots more things to do - chair based, yoga based..... (click the Activity tab under the mast head)

Keep moving!

Thanks Calliope153. For some reason had not found some of BHF resources.

When I did my cardio rehab, told to walk fast enough to be still able to speak to someone next to you if your on your own be able sing! Got some very strange looks!!

Your body will tell you when you are over doing it, so just listen to what it’s telling you.

Good luck and best wishes Pauline

Agree with all the above. And also important is NOT to stop suddenly at the end of your exercise set, but really just plod around keeping your feet moving to get your HR down. I have the BHF DVD "healthy heart, active heart". Don't overdo it to start with. I am a runner - I did a half marathon 4 days before my HA in under 2 hours and was really fit (for a59 year old), and had to start at scratch and walking round the block after my event was an effort. Six months on I can jog (not run alas) 5k. And whilst in the past this might have frustrated me, I take joy in that. So small steps my friend.

Thanks Heartattackvictim. Sounds like you need to change your name to Heartattacksurvivor or warrior. Your post gives me some hope that if I start wherever I can, I will see an improvement.

I would just walk. You should be breathing hard but be able to have a conversation as you walk. Slowly increase the distance and the speed. If you feel the need to do other exercises don't do ones that give you head rush like squats and don't do exercise that raises your hands above your head. These both work the heart to hard. Eventually you can do them but not in the first years. Someone mentioned to exercise until you are sweating. This is not a good measure as we all sweat at a different level as we are all different. But certainly you should be feeling hotter while exercising. But to start I would just walk.

Thanks - I had been walking 1km each day trying to get my heart rate up but I might try walking further each day instead of walking so fast. I can do that in the afternoon and try a few exercises in the morning. As for exercises I am definitely restricted - no jumping or raising my arms - generally very little understanding of the effect the female anatomy has on a chest wound I have found! Lol.

I only walked at the beginning and the gentle rehab stuff. Slowly getting further and faster. I didn't care for heart rates and Borg figures. i just walked to my body. I lost 35 KG's in a year and have never looked back. I'm 66 still walk and cycle now and go to the gym and push myself. But i started 8 years ago. Don't be in a rush. A little at a time. You'll get there in the end.

hi Tillymint1971, there is a video on you tube by the BHF takes you through a rehab session. Take care and keep safe.

Thanks stillaboveground, I think I found that one.

I have used the BHF Healthy Heart video DVDs and they are quite good. There are about 4 levels and they each take some 45 minutes. The videos are not expensive and worth getting as they give a structure and measure of the amount of exercise you are getting.

Thanks emjay18. These sound like the sort of thing I’m looking for. Are they on Amazon? I couldn’t find them. Where can I buy?

Tillymint , try


We normally go regularly to the special gym sessions organised by the wonderful York Coronary Support Group. While they are cancelled, Ray, our professional trainer, has posted a "do at home" version on YouTube. Type in "Exercise Time with Ray", there is also a Facebook link. The key to controlling the heart rate is the stationary marching you keep up while doing the exercises. (The two women who appear with Ray are the nurses who are usually in attendance and the other Ray is the hero who puts out all the equipment.)

Thanks playcards - video is useful. Getting a reasonable picture of what I should be doing now.

Hi Tillymint,

As far as I’m aware when walking the idea is to gradually pick up pace. A brisk walk for 20 minutes or so will be good for cardiovascular organs, lungs, heart etc.. If you find yourself short of breath you should slow down. I practise yoga and have been told by every teacher that if I am straining for position, that I should stop and work more gently with whatever I can manage. The same applies for walking, running, cycling and other cardiovascular exercises. 2 or 3, 20 minute walks per day would probably work better for you than 1 hour long walk which you might find harder to achieve. It’s really about achievable goals. Don’t set yourself unachievable targets. Do what you can, improve at your own pace.

If you want to exercise at home then yoga or pilates can really help. Masses on youtube, go for beginner’s classes. Gentle stretching can do wonders for your limbs and well being. IT REALLY WORKS. Take Care.

Thanks Antobody1. I’ve done a bit of yoga in the past - I’ll try it.


There are 2 parts to rehab. One physical and the other educational. In the absence of rehab you could talk to a pharmacist about your meds, a dietician about eating healthy and a psychologist about relaxing/sleep. An exercise physiologist can provide professional exercise advice suited to your condition, circumstances etc. don’t rely on exercise advice from other patients, everyone is different.

Tillymint1971 in reply to Hidden

OK so I see your point but as my post said - this is in the absence of any support at all due to COVID-19. My meds are managed by my GP who I can stay in touch with online. No dietician, just leaflet from hospital and internet. Psychologist - sorry, not a chance! But my Cardiologist who I haven’t seen since before op did say that my irregular sleep patterns and stress (along with family history) would have contributed and I need to sort. I thought I would be getting help with all of this. The internet is my guide.

Hidden in reply to Tillymint1971

Yuk. If you can’t even do a phone call with these sorts of experts that is tough. The virus won’t last forever so don’t stress the details. If you can go for a walk everyday. Aim for around 45 mins to an hour at can talk but not sing pace. Walking like that helps heart fitness and is also good for stress relief and sleep. Relax if its wet, you feel sick etc. Heart Foundation website in Oz has good stuff on healthy eating. Best advice I give when i give talksfor the Heart Foundation is to take your meds. Good luck

Tillymint1971 in reply to Hidden

Thanks. Reaching out to my Cardiologist now as everyone’s responses help me understand what I need and as a prompt since surgeon has signed me off. I’ll keep walking - bit of sunshine would help!

Hi you might find the book 'This Old Heart of Mine' My Inspirational Cardiac Journey an inspirational read. Its written by a patient who had heart surgery and in conjunction with a world class cardia centre wrote the book to educate and inspire people how positive life threatening illness can be and how it can give you a 'second life'.

Thanks chrisHillman. I’ll take a look.

I'm missing my cardio rehab classes! If I have no choice about doing an hour I can do it, but it's much more difficult to keep going when you are on your own.

In our class we do 2 minutes cardiovascular exercise and then move on to another cardio exercise for 2 minutes. Then we do one minute exercise with weights which is not cardiovascular and therefore less demanding. It's important to give yourself these regular little breaks so you can keep going. You have to keep your feet marching during the weight exercises.

Thanks dunestar. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Motivation is a big part of this. Knowing others are doing it and what they find useful is helpful.

Here's one to try.After you have done your warm up,walk up and down the stairs for ten minutes.Count how many times you can do it,Then next time try and better it.Don't forget to cool down after.Good luck it's not as easy as it sounds.x

Good idea!

Hi Tilly. This is a very interesting post as it may have been my post you saw recommending Joe. I am in a very similar place to you, I am 46 and having had a double bypass 8 weeks ago I have also missed out on cardio rehab due to Covid.

I have mainly been walking up to 3 miles a day briskly to get my heart rate up. In addition I do the Joe routines with my kids but I substitute the jumping, press-ups with other exercises I can do. I have also tried some beginners yoga routines from YouTube that I find help me start to retone my upper body. I have to admit though, I am somewhat having to experiment to find what seems to help me in my recovery.

Hi. Yes, it looks like we are in a similar position although I guess veins were taken from your leg endoscopically. I had the saphenous vein taken from my leg, and the radial artery from my arm which has left me with a long wound in my arm and numbness in my thumb, first and second fingers. They also used both internal mammary arteries so my chest has been sore in addition to the chest wound and (are you male or female?) until I could wear a bra there was additional pull on my chest. I tell you all this because I'm feeling inadequate when you say you walk 3 miles, do Joe Wick's class and a bit of yoga. Were you very fit before your operation? I guess I have some way to go. But I'm happy to chat 1:1 there is a way or you are on What's App?

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