Exercise is an important part of cardiac rehab. Combining
exercise with other lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and
stopping smoking, reduces the risk of future heart problems. An exercise test
is usually done before you begin your cardiac rehab exercise program. This test
will show what types of exercise you can safely do and how soon you can begin
You can benefit from exercise
whether you exercise at a high intensity for just a short time or at a low
intensity for a longer period of time. If, for example, you are a person who
finds exercising difficult, you still can obtain the benefits of regular
exercise simply by walking.
Cardiac rehab exercises can:
Lower your risk of dying of heart
Lower your blood pressure.
Help you control
Make your chest pain less severe and happen less
Reduce your symptoms of heart failure.
cholesterol levels. Exercise alone may neither change
plaque buildup that is already in the coronary
arteries nor improve blood flow to the heart. But exercise combined with
lifestyle changes, such as eating a more nutritious diet, stopping smoking, and
reducing stress, can improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of rupture of
cholesterol-laden plaques, which can lead to a heart attack.
you lose weight or stay at your weight. Exercise combined with other lifestyle
changes, such as eating a more nutritious diet, can reduce your body weight (a
risk factor for
coronary artery disease). Most important, exercise
helps prevent regaining weight.
Exercise can also improve your quality of life, endurance,
and muscle strength. After a few months of exercise in a cardiac rehab program,
you can increase your ability to exercise. Your daily activities (such as
carrying groceries) will be easier to complete. You may also experience an
improved sense of wellness, because exercise can help alleviate depression,
stress, and anxiety.
You will be taught to check how hard you are
working when you exercise. You will be taught to check your heart rate or your
exercise level known as a rating of perceived exertion (RPE). It is important
to keep your heart rate from getting too high. Your doctor will tell you how
fast your heart rate should be with exercise. Self-monitoring is often used
during the last stage of a rehab program, when you continue your cardiac rehab
on your own without close supervision.
Riding a stationary bike,
walking on a treadmill, and resistance training (working with weights) are
types of exercise you may do during cardiac rehab.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.