Getting back to the recreational activities you used to enjoy is an important part of your recovery.
- Before doing any of these activities speak with your family doctor, cardiologist or cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation team for guidelines on how to stay safe.
- The information on this page is not intended to replace a consultation with your doctor. Please use this information to help you and your doctor make a decision about returning to your favourite activities.
Getting into shape by engaging in regular aerobic exercise and resistance training is important to keep you safe when returning to your favourite activities. Some of the many benefits of regular exercise are:
- a lower heart rate (HR) at rest and in response to exercise
- a lower blood pressure (BP) at rest and in response to exercise
This means that your heart will not have to work as hard while doing your favourite activity (heart work = HR x systolic BP).
Give yourself at least 3 months of consistent exercising and feeling good before returning to your favourite activities.
Effort Required for Recreational Activities
With regular exercise, your maximum oxygen uptake (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use) increases. We can see this increase in your maximum oxygen uptake when you repeat your stress test (cardiopulmonary assessment) after 3 months of regular exercise training.
Learn more about the exercise stress test (cardiopulmonary assessment) »
Another way of expressing the maximum amount of work your body can do is looking at the metabolic equivalent of task (MET). A MET is a measure expressing the energy cost of a physical activity. The maximum amount of work that you are able to do on a stress test can be expressed as a MET level.
A MET level for an activity can tell you how intense the activity is (how much effort is required to do it).
- For example, golfing with a power cart has an energy cost of 2 to 3 METs while golfing by walking with a bag or cart has a cost of 4 to 7 METs. Thus, golfing by walking with a bag or cart has a higher energy cost and is a more intense way of golfing.
Knowing your maximum oxygen uptake number or the MET level from your stress test (cardiopulmonary assessment) is important.
- Ask your cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation team or your doctor for this number.
- Most recreational activities have a MET level. Compare your MET level (from your stress test) to the MET level for the activity that you want to do. This will help you to understand if you are ready to do the activity again or if you need to modify it so that you are able to do it safely.
Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) levels for common activities
The MET levels needed for some common activities are:
|Activity||MET level required to perform the activity|
|Sitting quietly||approximately 1 MET|
|2 to 3|
- Walking with bag or cart
|4 to 7|
|Tennis (depends on skill level)|
|4 to 9|
|7 to 12|
|6 to 8|
|6 to 12|
|Swiming||4 to 8 |
|Dancing||4 to 5|
|Activities Around the House|
- Heavy Yard Work or Gardening
- Cutting Your Grass (with hand mower)
|5 to 6|
See the Compendium of Physical Activities for a complete list of physical activities (including occupations) and MET levels (opens in new window) »
Tips to Be Successful
- Make sure you warm up before the activity and cool down after.
- Use the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale to guide your effort level. The activity you are doing should never feel like more than “hard work” or a 15 on scale. See the Borg Raing of Perceived Exertion Scale (PDF, opens in new window) »
- If you are prescribed nitroglycerine for angina make sure you carry it with you. Watch for signs of angina. If you experience angina stop the activity. Know the signs of angina »
- Take your pulse. Your heart rate should not exceed the heart rate prescribed to you by your cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation team. Know how to take your pulse (PDF, opens in new window) »
- Stay hydrated. Drink 6 to 8 oz of water every 20 minutes unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
- Take rest breaks.
- Start small. For example, if you would like to golf then consider using a power cart and doing 9 holes to start.