Frequently Asked Questions

I don't have a heart condition. Can I still take a Heart Wise Exercise class?

Yes. Anyone can take these classes, especially those concerned about their health or those just beginning an exercise program.

I already take part in exercise classes, but the class I am in doesn't have the Heart Wise Exercise logo. Does this mean it isn't safe?

Not at all. While many exercise programs are safe and appropriate, Heart Wise Exercise classes have been identified as a good place to start or continue exercising for those living with heart or other health conditions.

I want to help my heart, but I don't like doing “aerobics”. Do I have to do daily “aerobics”?

No.  Aerobic exercise is different than “aerobics”. Research has shown that the best way to improve hearth health is to do some aerobic exercise every day. This simply means any rhythmic exercise using the larger muscles of the body that increases the heart rate for at least 10 minutes, but ideally for a minimum of 30 minutes, at one time (aiming for up to 60 minutes). Great examples of aerobic exercise include walking, swimming, skating, and of course many fitness classes.

How would I start a Get W.I.T.H. It! in my community?

Get W.I.T.H. It! is a free, grassroots walking initiative that invites everyone to "get with" the benefits of walking during the cold, darker months of winter in the halls of your local high school. For more information on starting Get W.I.T.H It! in your community, email info@stepscount.com. Many of these walking programs have been designed to meet the Heart Wise Exercise criteria. If you have a walking program and think it can become a Heart Wise Exercise program, contact heartwise@ottawaheart.ca or call (613) 761-5240.

Is a Heart Wise Exercise fitness program all that I require?

According to the Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity,  older adults (aged 65 years and older) , should get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to  achieve health benefits and improve functional abilities. Exercise sessions should last 10 minutes or more.

What emergency plan is in place if I have a cardiac episode?

All Heart Wise Exercise  locations have an emergency plan, have phone access to emergency medical services and have a defibrillator on site.

I am concerned about safety in a fitness class and how hard I am working.

You are strongly recommended to follow the exercise recommendations outlined by your health care provider. Heart Wise Exercise programs include a gradual warm- up and the leader will provide you with exercise options to help you reach your recommended level of intensity.

I have a heart condition and am wondering if Heart Wise Exericse is suitable for me?

Heart Wise Exercise programs are designed to accommodate persons with heart and other health conditions. The programs consist of low to moderate levels of intensity and encourage participants to exercise at their own appropriate level.

If I have a heart problem should I contact my physician before I register in a Heart Wise Exercise fitness program?

If you have a heart condition, you should have exercise recommended to you by a healthcare professional.  This could be at a cardiac rehabilitation program, by your health specialist, or by your family physician.

What is the difference between Heart Wise Exercise programs and other fitness programs?

In some cases, there are very few differences. Heart Wise Exercise programs are usually regular fitness classes where the intensity and type of exercises can be modified to meet the needs of people living with heart and other health conditions. Non- Heart Wise Exercise programs are, of course, safe and effective for those who are physically able to perform higher levels of intensity and/or more demanding exercises.

Is there a cost to Heart Wise Exercise Programs?

Heart Wise Exercise programs are offered in a variety of facilities including fitness centres, high schools, and shopping malls. There is no cost above the usual enrolment cost for any facility, and there are several free programs, such as walking programs in some shopping malls or local high schools.

How do I start a HWE program? 

HWE also partners with groups who wish to develop exercise/physical activity programming such as walking programs or chair-based, volunteer-led exercise classes in their community. The HWE Resource Guide (pdf) has a section dedicated to helping these groups develop HWE programs from scratch.

The Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging provides training and support for devopment of community-based exercise programs that are ideal candidates to become Heart Wise Exercise designated, although many other kinds of programs can be developed as well, including Get WITH it Walking in the Hallway programs. 

For further information, contact your local HWE representative.