It makes sense that after a heart attack, you’d want to get back to exercising, but when is it safe to start exercising again? Your doctor may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program of three months or more to get you back into a routine. While your doctor can give you personal guidance, the Cleveland Clinic notes that everyone recovers from a heart attack at a different pace, and it may take months before you can get into a routine that feels consistent, so it’s important to start slow and steady. The Heart Foundation recommends building up to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Just make sure you consult your physician to determine which exercise plan is best for you.

Go back to work?

Eager to get back to work after your heart attack? You’re not alone. The familiarity of going back to work can bring a welcomed sense of normalcy to life after a heart attack. Research has even suggested that working again can play a role in improving overall health. According to the AHA, most people who have had a heart attack are back to work within two weeks to three months. That said, it can depend on the severity of the heart attack and you should always make sure to ask your physician, as your individual situation and recovery time may be unique.


Driving is a huge part of daily life, so it’s natural to want to get back on the road after a heart attack. The Heart Foundation notes that a heart attack may affect your ability to drive in the short term, so it’s important to ask your doctor before you get back behind the wheel. If you’ve had heart surgery, the Heart Foundation says, you might need to wait between two to four weeks, or more, to recover enough to drive.

Have sex?

Many people wonder when they can have sex after a heart attack, as sex can be an intense physical activity, just like exercise. Harvard Health Publishing cites the journal Circulation, which says that if you have no heart disease symptoms and can pass a stress test without experiencing angina, you are at a low risk of having a heart attack during sex. The amount of time you need to wait may depend on how you were treated for your heart attack, so you should always ask your doctor before resuming any strenuous physical activity, including sex. Harvard Health Publishing says you should wait until any puncture sites from your procedure have healed before resuming sex. Additionally, if you had open coronary bypass surgery, you should wait until your breastbone has healed (generally 6–8 weeks) and avoid any position that puts stress on your chest for several months after.

Eat my favorite foods?

After a heart attack, you might be wondering when you can get back to making your favorite meals. That, of course, depends on what your favorite meals are. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet after a heart attack, so you may want to reconsider if your favorite meal doesn’t fit into a healthy diet. The Heart Foundation has some great recovery meal ideas on their site. A great idea is to ask your doctor—they’ll know if your favorite foods before a heart attack are safe to eat after.

Go out?

You may be eager to leave your home after having a heart attack, but recovery time can vary significantly depending on your individual condition and the way your heart attack was treated. The Cleveland Clinic recommends going for a daily walk, as recommended by your doctor, after the first week of rest at home. Taking a walk is a great way to get out of the house and get some light exercise in—just make sure to consult with your physician, as they’ll know you and your individualized recovery needs best.

Drink alcohol?

The health risks of drinking alcohol after a heart attack can vary significantly from person to person, says the Cleveland Clinic. Medication you’re taking after your heart attack may also affect your ability to drink alcohol, so make sure to check with your doctor before drinking. American Heart Association recommends no more than one drink per day for women and two for men, so if you do end up being able to drink, you should keep that in mind with regard to moderation.

All the information contained in this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Inclusion of specific information is not considered an endorsement of any organization or content, nor do we believe that this website is comprehensive of all the sources related to heart health. Readers are encouraged to consult other sources and talk with their healthcare provider to obtain further information and personal treatment advice.

Connect with us to get the latest information and support through your recovery journey and for a link to download Rebound, our free 12-month heart attack recovery workbook.


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