Shortness of breath-especially during any type of exertion-is one of the cardinal signs of heart failure. That may lead you to think that you shouldnt exert yourself. In fact, the opposite is true.

Aerobic exercise is generally safe for patients with heart failure, but you should confirm this with your physician before embarking on a training program. Regular exercise may actually benefit heart failure patients by training the muscles to extract oxygen from the blood more efficiently. This in turn helps your body compensate for weakened heart muscle function.

Exercise is an important part of your treatment plan. Its normal to feel anxious if you havent been active recently. Once you begin regular exercise, you may start to feel better. Talk to your provider about what types of exercise you should do, and how much.

Here are some general exercise guidelines for people with heart failure.

To exercise safely: