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Patients will often ask me, “What about exercise, Doc? Can I strain my heart? Can I hurt my heart with too much exercise?”

Most heart health practitioners agree that exercise is fantastic for the heart and in most circumstances, we love to see people exercising. However, there are a couple of scenarios of which you should be aware.

There are two main types of exercise: isotonic and isometric.

Isotonic (iso, being the same, tonic, relating to tone) exercise is where there’s lots of movement, the body moves fluidly, and tension in the muscles is not particularly high. Exercises such as swimming and walking fit into this category.

Isometric (iso, being the same, metric, relating to length) exercise is where the muscles are tight and contract firmly; they do not move fluidly. Lifting heavy weights is a form of isometric exercise.

The heart can be damaged with extreme forms of either.

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