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Physical activity could be beneficial following a heart attack

Researchers say exercise improves mental and physical health benefits

Photo (c) Sitthiphong - Getty Images
While recent studies have explored how staying active can help consumers boost their heart health, following a heart attack, it can take some time for patients to return to business as usual. 

Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the European Society of Cardiology has found that exercise could be a great way for heart attack patients to improve their quality of life. 

“Exercise improves fitness, which has both physical and mental health benefits,” said researcher Dr. Ben Hurdus. “If you’re more able to participate in activities that bring you happiness, then you’re more likely to have a better quality of life.” 

Improving quality of life

To better understand the effect that exercise can have on heart attack patients, the researchers analyzed nearly 5,000 participants for the study. All of the participants had been admitted into the hospital with heart attack-related symptoms. 

The researchers wanted to gauge how the participants were doing following a heart attack, so they had them complete questionnaires about their quality of life and exercise routine while still in the hospital, and then at various junctures after they were discharged. 

One key component following a heart attack is cardiac rehabilitation, which is a class that the patients attend to help them develop healthier habits. Patients learn about healthy eating and stress management, among other things, and classes often include light exercise. 

“All heart attack patients should be referred for cardiac rehabilitation unless their healthcare professional advises against it,” said researcher Chris Gale. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that attending cardiac rehabilitation was crucial for patient well-being following a heart attack. Those who attended the classes and made time for exercise each day had the highest quality of life scores.  

More satisfaction from more exercise

Getting the body moving and incorporating that movement into the daily or weekly routine was incredibly beneficial for the participants. While the researchers recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week, those who surpassed that benchmark reported higher quality of life measures at each checkpoint than those who weren’t staying active. 

The researchers highly recommend that patients stay the course with cardiac rehabilitation, as the benefits are seemingly endless. 

“Cardiac rehabilitation involves not only exercise, but also advice on lifestyle and medications which likely all contribute to making people feel better,” said Dr. Hurdus. “There are also the added social benefits such as being around other people in a similar situation and having that shared sense of community.”  

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