Safe Activities after a Heart Attack

After a heart attack, you may get tired more easily. It is important to listen to your body and get enough rest to help your heart heal quickly and safely. Below are some guidelines. Always follow the advice of your health care team. Call your doctor if you havequestions.

After you go home, we suggest taking part in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation prepares you physically, mentally and emotionally for your return to work and normallife.

General guidelines

At first, you might feel different from day to day. On some days you may feel better and have more energy than others. Pace yourself and slowly return toactivities.

  • Increase your daily activities, outings and exercise a little at atime.

  • Balance your activity with rest or quiet time. Spread activities out during the day andweek.

  • Take rest breaks before you get tootired.

  • Watch for signs that you are doing toomuch:

    • Feeling very tired, weak, lightheaded ordizzy

    • Shortness ofbreath

    • Bodyaches

    • Taking a long time to recover from anactivity

  • Avoid very hot showers, baths, whirlpools and saunas. Hot temperatures raise your heart rate, make your heart work harder and can make you feel dizzy orlightheaded.

  • Return to sexual activity when your doctor says your body is ready—and if you feel ready. If you can climb 2 flights of stairs quickly or walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour without symptoms, your body is likely ready to havesex.

  • Ask your doctor when it is OK for you to drive, return to work or take a longtrip.

Activity guidelines

Recovery time after a heart attack is about 4 to 6 weeks. Your recovery may be shorter or longer. This is based on how much damage your heart has or if you have other healthproblems.

For the first 2 to 4 weeks


Lift no more than 10 pounds. This includes children and pets. Remember:

  • A gallon of milk weighs about 8pounds.

  • A bag of groceries weighs about 10 to 12pounds.

  • A full laundry basket weighs up to 25pounds.


You may do light activities. Examples:

Self-care andhousehold

  • Bathing, dressing

  • Light household tasks (making meals, washing dishes, dusting orlaundry)

  • Computerwork

  • Light gardening (weeding, flowerplanting)

Exercise andrecreation

  • Walking (about 2 miles perhour)

  • Climbing stairsslowly

  • Slowbiking

  • Short outings, lightshopping

  • Light projects or hobbies, playing thepiano

  • Billiards, pool

  • Golfputting

  • Fishing from adock

Wait at least 4 to 6 weeks

You may do light to moderate activities. Examples:


  • Moderate household tasks (vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, washingwindows)

  • Wallpaper, painting

  • Mowing the lawn (power or self-propelledmower)

  • Raking, gardening (digging andspading)

  • Washing, waxing acar

  • Generalcarpentry

Exercise andrecreation

  • Medium to fast walking (about 3 to 3 ½ miles perhour)

  • Leisurely biking, swimming, canoeing

  • Fishing from a boat, flyfishing

  • Bowling

  • Golfing (using a golf cart or rolling a bag ofclubs)

  • Yoga, TaiChi

  • Slow socialdancing

6 to 8 weeks

You may start moderate to heavier activities. Talk with your therapist or doctor for guidelines about returning to heavy work or activesports.


For informational purposes only. Not to replace the advice of your health care provider.
Copyright © 2013 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved. SMARTworks 476536 – REV 11/15.

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For informational purposes only. Not to replace the advice of your health care provider. Copyright © 2013 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved. SMARTworks 476536 – REV 11/15.