Living with a heart condition in the wake of a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiac episode usually means having to carefully reevaluate your lifestyle. Developing a heart-healthy diet to fuel your body will be one of your chief concerns. Perhaps you'll need to quit smoking or reduce your consumption of alcohol to boost your heart health, as well. No matter where you find yourself in this process, though, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to establish a healthy exercise routine. If you're looking for a low-impact sport that will be easy on the joints while still providing strong benefits to your muscles and cardiovascular system, swimming is the perfect fit. Take a look at these tips for designing a swimming workout for heart health.

Start slow

It's extremely important in any sport or exercise regimen to ensure that you start slow, and swimming is no exception. To avoid injuring yourself or causing further cardiac distress, you need to ease yourself into the activity. Get your doctor’s approval first. One great way to be confident that you aren't exercising outside of your limits is by meeting with a personal trainer or fitness specialist and having them help design a workout plan for you. These individuals specialize in motivating people without pushing them too hard, which is perfect for a beginner. Make sure to be open with them about your heart issues or other health problems.

Aerobic swimming

Once you've begun your workout regimen and had a few weeks to feel it out, you may want to transition to aerobic swimming. According to AZCentral, aerobic swim sets are a wonderful way to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. This involves swimming medium-length sets at a relatively quick pace. Seek to work your heart somewhere between 65 and 80 percent of your total possible heart rate during these sets, taking only several moments of rest in between. Your doctor or fitness professional can help you determine what your heart rate should be. Ideally, the rest periods will shorten as your strength and aerobic capacity improve over time.

Track your goals and benefits

With any workout regimen, swimming included, it's vital not to lose sight of your fitness goals and their benefits, as this helps to motivate you. For example, the Obesity Action Coalition reports that swimming has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke while also reducing an individual's resting heart rate. Make sure that you're tracking your workouts on a weekly basis to provide yourself with tangible evidence of your improvement. Measure your heart rate, weigh yourself and take note of how much more you can push your body each week. While it may be difficult initially, you'll be surprised how quickly your body adjusts.

For more on exercising for heart health:

Basic Guidelines for Aerobic Exercise
Heart Rate Monitors and Exercise
Safely Exercising with Atrial Fibrillation