Exercise tips

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Start the activity gradually and at a low level of intensity. You should be able to talk without getting short of breath.

Stay safe

If you want to do more intensive physical activity, build up slowly over a number of weeks. As you start to feel better and fitter while being active, increase the intensity so you start to ‘puff’ a little during the activity.

Tips for staying safe:

  • Talk with your doctor if you want to do more intensive activity or competitive sports.
  • Don’t do physical activity if you feel unwell, tired or sore – take a day off to recover.
  • Don’t do physical activity straight after meals or alcohol.
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after the activity (you will lose water through sweating).
  • Share the activity with a friend – you may feel more confident and motivated, and enjoy it more too! 
  • Carry your mobile telephone with you while walking, so you can call for help if you feel unwell.
  • If you need to take angina medicine, keep it with you. 

How much activity is safe?

How you feel is your best guide to doing physical activity at a safe level.

It is normal to worry about what you should and shouldn’t do.

Slowly build up your activity level based on what your doctor or health professionals tell you. You may feel more comfortable exercising with a friend or family member for increased motivation as well as confidence or safety concerns.

Increase your physical activity slowly. Your doctor will advise you about this when you leave hospital. 


Build up your walking gradually over time. Start with Goal one (see table below). Walk up to 10 minutes twice a day. Do this at least two days in a row. If you find this tiring, stay at Goal one until you feel stronger. You may need to stay at Goal one for a few weeks. 

Making progress

Talk to your doctor or another health professional if you aren’t sure whether you are doing too much or too little walking.

Only move to the next goal when you meet your walking target without discomfort.

As you advance, it may take longer to move to each new goal. You may take more time to get used to how much more walking you need to do. 

If you don’t feel well enough to walk one day, let your body get some rest. Miss walking that day, or at least drop back one or two goals.

Guidelines for walking after you leave hospital


Minimum time


Times per day

1 5–10  2 Stroll 
2 10–15  2 Comfortable 
3 15–20  2 Comfortable 
4 20–25  1-2 Comfortable/ Stride out
5 25–30  1-2 Comfortable/ Stride out
6 30+  1-2 Comfortable/ Stride out

Taking stairs

If there are stairs where you live, you can climb them slowly as soon as you come home.

As a general rule, if you can walk normally at your usual pace, you can also climb two flights of stairs at your usual pace.

Gradually increase how many stairs you can climb, and how fast you climb them.

Sport and other recreational activities

Do the sort of activities you like to do regularly. Start with walking and everyday tasks, like light gardening and housework. Aim to limit the amount of time you sit each day.

Gradually add other activities such as cycling and swimming that need more effort. You can usually start cycling, swimming, tennis, golf and bowls again after six weeks, as your fitness and confidence increases. Ask your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation team about specific sports.

Strength training

The strain of lifting heavy weights and some other activities can raise your blood pressure, so don’t do these in the short term.

You may later include resistance (weight) training with light weights in your activity program. But talk with your doctor or cardiac rehabilitation team before you start this sort of training. 

Plan your recovery with the physical activity action plan.