Exercise is crucial for your fitness

Improving mental wellbeing, weight control and cardiovascular health are just some of the benefits of doing 30 minutes daily.

After your operation, it is best to take this gently… for a while! Once you’re feeling up to more exciting activities, why not have a go at some of these?

Always consult your cardiologist or GP for advice before taking up an activity like the ones below! While it’s important to get moving and reap the benefits of your new heart valve, it is also crucial that you don’t overexert yourself too soon.

Now, I know it may not sound all that exciting, but getting your walking boots on and heading our for a stroll can be one of the best ways to get yourself moving after your heart valve disease treatment! Here in the UK we are blessed with some wonderful natural landscapes and walkways that are all free to enjoy.

The links below take you to some websites that will help you find routes. If you’re a city-dweller then you might have a wealth of parks and open spaces to explore too.



You can find a local walking group here.

Originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers, Nordic Walking is based on using specially designed walking poles in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. It is now a recognised way to turn a walk into whole body exercise that can be done by anybody anywhere. You can find out more about this increasingly popular activity:



Over recent years there has been a rise in the number of dance classes throughout the UK.

Rather than leaving it to the guys and dolls on Strictly, you could give it a go yourself! One of the best things about dancing is that while you’re getting all the health benefits of a good workout, you are also having fun moving to music and meeting new people. Positive mental health is an important part of your long-term recovery. From Bhangra to the Foxtrot, there is a dance style to suit all tastes and abilities.

If ballroom’s what you fancy, here is a link to a directory of classes. However, many local independent dance or performing arts schools may host classes aimed at adults. Browse the web, see what you can find and get you shoes a-tapping!


Swimming works the whole body so it is a great way to tone up and get trim. Swimming a few lengths involves most of the muscle groups and you’ll get a good aerobic workout if you increase the pace. Swimming can also help you lose weight if you swim at a steady and continuous pace throughout your session. The ability to increase and decrease the intensity of this activity is great when recovering from heart valve disease treatment, because you control your workout.

Many swimming pools and sports centres now hold adult only/over 60s only/women only classes so you can be sure to enjoy your swim without the floats and bath toys!

Use http://www.swimming.org/poolfinder to help locate a pool near you!

Water aerobics requires a basic swimming ability as it’s mostly done in water that’s waist high or deeper. Aqua aerobic workouts use a variety of techniques (some taken from studio aerobics) and the added resistance of the water helps strengthen muscles.

Variations of aqua aerobics include aqua zumba and aqua jogging. Your local centre may have their own style of water-based fitness class, so it is worth a look.

Use http://www.swimming.org/poolfinder to help locate a pool near you!

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing. It is a commonplace activity in many leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgeries.

Studies suggest yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance. There’s some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches, pains, depression and stress.

Yoga workouts usually work on a whole-body approach to strengthening. Each pose has counter-pose that aims to create a sense of balance in the body.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Golf was included as an event for the first time in 100 years. Why not use that as inspiration to take up your clubs and have a swing for yourself!

Golf provides a stimulating mental challenge combined with a healthy walk in pleasant surroundings and can be played by people of all abilities and ages. It may be a casual pastime or a competitive activity and can be good for your health and your heart. Walking an average course for a round of golf can be between five to seven kilometres. If you pull your clubs or carry them, you’ll burn even more calories each round and benefit even more. It is a great way to tie together socialising and exercising, both important parts of the recovery pathway.

There are many similarities between Yoga and Pilates. Their origins are different, but the aim of both is to improve balance, strength and flexibility. While yoga sessions tend to work the whole body, pilates is more focused on the core muscles and your back, aiming to build core and spine strength. Pilates classes are often more structured than that of yoga.

Both yoga and pilates are lovely to do as stand alone activities, but are also great enhancements to your weekly activity or exercise routine. When combined with another exercise form, for example swimming, a session of pilates/yoga acts as a thorough and relaxing cool down for your muscles.

Football, even when played among friends, can get a bit intense… we all know that one person who isn’t afraid of a dirty tackle! If you don’t feel up to a full game of footie, Walking Football could be just the thing for you!

It is a variant of association football aimed at keeping people aged over 50 involved with football if, due to a lack of mobility or for other reasons, they are not able to play the traditional game. The sport can be played both indoors and outdoors.

There is now even a Walking Football United, who host yearly tournaments for teams to compete in. You can find your nearest walking football team here.

In the same spirit as Walking Football, Walking Netball is a low-intensity alternative to the traditional game. While it is not as commonplace as its football equivalent, there are groups forming around the UK. You could even set up a team yourself! You can find out more here.

Cycling is an aerobic exercise that works your lower body and cardiovascular system. Start slowly and increase the length of your cycling sessions gradually. Like swimming, this form of exercise is controlled by you.

Cycling is a low-impact activity, but you can still injure yourself if you have the wrong size bike or if the saddle and handlebars are at the wrong height. There is a wealth of information about cycling available on the Sustran’s website.

There is no reason to not enjoy these sports post-treatment. If you feel physically capable of picking up your racket and having a game with a friend (or three, for doubles tennis) then go ahead!

You can find tennis clubs to join here.

You can find your nearest badminton courts here, and for squash click here.

Groups such as the LTA have dedicated competitions for senior (over 40/45 for female/male) players. Find out more here.

Tips for family, friends and carers

You might like to arrange for a friend or family member who lives a distance away to come and see them 6 or 7 weeks after surgery. This will be an incentive, and something to work towards during their recovery.