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Golfing After a Heart Attack Or Heart Surgery

Commencing cardiac rehabilitation program is an important first step in your goal to getting back to playing golf. During your cardiac rehabilitation program you will learn about controlling your modifiable risk factors to heart disease. This will also include starting an exercise program. You will undergo a fitness test at which they will find out your current level of fitness. A cardiac rehabilitation program will calculate your level of fitness or MET level and show you how to increase your level of fitness safely and effectively.

When we look at any physical activity we gage this measure in METs which stand for metabolic equivalents. METs are a unit in which we use to calculate the level of physical activity or energy expended. One MET is the energy it takes to sit quietly. Therefore, if walking takes 3.5 METs this means that you are going 3.5 times your resting level. Golfing can take anywhere from 3.5 METs to 4.5 METs, therefore it is important to increase your level of fitness with your exercise program.

If you have had recent heart surgery, you should be visiting your surgeon within 3 months to ensure that all the wounds are undergoing the normal healing process. As they start to heal you can start to do some stretching for golf. Please consult your cardiac rehabilitation specialist to ensure that you are doing things safely and slowly. This includes flexibility, aerobic exercises, and resistance training. All three are important in getting you back to your love of golf.

Aerobic exercise is the best form of exercises to increase your fitness level and improve your heart condition. Aerobic means “with oxygen” so you are using oxygen as your primary fuel source to allow the exercise to continue. This includes, dependent on your fitness level, walking, brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming, cross country skiing, etc. It is important to focus on aerobic exercise as it gives you a base of support for the activities you wish to do such as golfing.

Once you have developed a strong base of support with aerobic exercises then you can proceed to doing strength/resistance training exercises to increase your strength to handle the swing speed of your club during a golf swing.

Performing cardiac yoga can also increase your strength, flexibility and develop a positive mental mindset to get you back to swinging your clubs.

To get back to golfing safely: 1. Enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program. 2. Start an aerobic exercise program. 3. Get started with some stretching. 4. Re-visit with your cardiologist and/or cardiothoracic surgeon. 5. Start a strength training program. 6. Try cardiac yoga. 7. Start out slow. Try the driving range or nine holes and before you know it you will get back to your regular game or even better.

Once you are ready to golf, start out slow. I always recommend before even picking up a club and swing warm up well. This includes an aerobic warm up, whether it be biking or walking for 5 minutes. The next step would be performing a series of warm up exercises. This includes stretching along with some dynamic warm up exercises. Please consult a qualified cardiac rehabilitation specialist for a list of exercises to get you back to golf.

Golfing is a great and popular activity. If you have heart disease you can get back to playing golf, it just becomes important to know your limits and continue to modify your modifiable risk factors (please read my article or blog about risk factors). Watch out FORE heart disease.