Strengthen your heart, mind, body and lungs.

Keeping fit promotes a healthy body and mind. However, adult CHD patients may have issues that can stop them from exercising, or reduce their ability when they do.

But you can still improve your fitness level even if your exercise capacity is reduced. And, providing that you are physically able and have been cleared by your doctor, the benefits of starting even a gentle exercise programme are huge.

As with anything new, the best place to start is by having a conversation with your CHD consultant about exercise. They should be able to advise you if there is any clinical reason for you not to exercise, or if there are particular activities that you should avoid.

Helping people born with heart conditions to live long, full and happy lives, we’ve got lots of information to help you exercise safely and to the best of your ability.

Ten good reasons to exercise

  1. Reduce your risk of acquired heart disease. CHD patients are not immune from heart attacks, strokes, and angina
  2. Strengthen your heart and lungs. Even a moderate amount of exercise can increase the efficiency of the heart muscle. And, if you need surgery, being fit can help you to recover quicker from the operation
  3. Lower or control blood pressure. Studies have shown that exercise is a great way to reduce your risk of developing (and better manage) hypertension
  4. Help with weight loss and maintenance. Exercise can lower your Body Mass Index (BMI) or fat to height ratio. This figure is a good predictor of your risk for developing obesity-related conditions such as acquired heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain cancers
  5. Manage your stress levels. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to lift your mood and give you something positive to focus on. It can improve your self-esteem and help you to deal with the emotional ups and downs of your condition
  6. Improve muscle strength, joint structure and joint function. Exercise can increase not only the strength of a muscle, but also the bones and surrounding tissues
  7. Improve your energy levels. Regular exercise will increase your aerobic capacity (fitness level), endurance and stamina
  8. Decrease the blood level of triglycerides (fat) and LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol). These can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, and ultimately increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke
  9. Boost your immune system. Many CHD patients dread the onset of winter weather, and the accompanying coughs and colds. Moderate exercise has been shown to lower your chances of developing these illnesses, and reduce the severity and longevity of your symptoms if you do
  10. Feel good about yourself! Exercise makes you look and feel healthier. It can improve your physical appearance, body posture, mental outlook, and overall quality of life.

Get Started

How do you start an exercise programme which you can stick to, especially if you have previously been sedentary?

  • Talk to your CHD consultant about any restrictions or limitations
  • Choose an exercise that you enjoy, and which fits into your life
  • Identify achievable fitness goals
  • Start easily and build up gradually
  • Drink plenty of fluids before and during exercise
  • Wear appropriate clothing
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Stretch before and after workouts
  • Keep an exercise diary. When you look back you will be amazed at how far you have come
  • Make exercise fun!

Exercise Top Tips

Helping you make healthy decisions

Get your Personal Health Passport and manage your heart condition more effectively.


With your help, we’ve helped fund new and improved treatments for congenital heart disease. we opened the UK’s first dedicated Congenital Heart Research Centre. we’ve organised receptions at the House of Lords and House of Commons, a film première, concerts, parachute jumps, marathon runs, annual sponsored walks and masquerade balls. we ensure that adult CHD patients enjoy access to every opportunity, are free from discrimination, and are fully supported throughout their lives. we’ve staged annual conferences, regional patient information days and workshops throughout the UK. we’ve published a range of leaflets for CHD patients on a wide-range of topics. we’ve launched a Freephone patient helpline to provide practical advice, a listening ear, and emotional reassurance at times of stress. we’ve created online networks where congenital heart patients can connect with each other. we successfully applied for a Comic Relief grant to help develop mental health support services. we’ve contributed to adult congenital heart disease nurse training days and taken part in various study days and conferences for medical and health professionals. we’ve established a benevolent fund for members who are in financial hardship. we’ve organised residential weekends and outward bound holidays for teenagers and adults, providing congenital heart patients with the opportunity to meet and gain support from each other.

Just think what else we could do if you donate, fundraise or volunteer for us.