Heart failure

Sports, hobbies and activities

People with heart failure may have less energy to put into sports, hobbies and other activities. Many of those we spoke to found that being unable to do things that they had always enjoyed was difficult to cope with, for instance a man who had always produced amateur shows said he resented having to give up the theatre and was not motivated to start a new hobby. On the other hand others who felt well enough to try something new often found they felt better for it.

Most people said they missed gardening, though few had given it up completely. People talked about simplifying their gardens and having to ask for help from friends and family. More demanding gardening such as heavy digging, mowing or hedge cutting had made some feel breathless; for instance one man found he had to rest after a bout of strimming.

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Many people continued to enjoy the kind of sports and activities that can be done at a slower pace, for instance a man who had always enjoyed fishing had carried on with it even though he needed help to carry his fishing tackle and took longer to land his catches. Another man who had always kept fit by ballroom dancing and golf realised he could no longer dance but thought he would be able to play golf again. Many others enjoyed going out for walks as long as they avoided walking too fast and walking uphill.

A few people wanted to prove to themselves that they could do the same sports or activities as before, even if it meant taking risks. One woman for instance decided without telling anyone in her family that she was going to walk up a hill in the Lake District unaccompanied. She did what she set out to do and felt proud of having accomplished it though she did experience some breathlessness. A 34 year old man who had always enjoyed water sports decided to go scuba diving on holiday without letting anyone know he had heart problems. He ran out of breath during the dive and only just managed to reach the surface. (He was advised afterwards to follow safer sports).

Doing activities with others and keeping in touch with the world beyond home and family was important and several people kept up social activities even though they couldn't manage as much as before. A woman who had always been active in her local parent teacher association said she had to resign as chairperson but continued to bake cakes for her local primary school to raise money.

Others found that there was more time for them to explore other hobbies such as painting and drawing which were said to be relaxing and therapeutic. Others had taken up hobbies that were less tiring such as model making, cake decorating, relaxation classes, art groups, church groups, patient support groups and the Women's Institute all of which were said to be enjoyable.

Last reviewed April 2016.


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