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Harnessing the Power of Exercise: A Guide to Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Through Physical Activity

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Cardiovascular rehabilitation focuses on improving the individual’s health to reduce symptoms and long-term cardiac risk. The focus of cardiovascular rehabilitation is to help individuals return to regular physical activity and healthy lifestyle behaviors to avoid further cardiac events. Although good nutrition, stress management, smoking cessation, and medical therapies are essential elements of cardiovascular rehabilitation, physical activity, and exercise training are often the most neglected components.

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Contents

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What is Physical Activity & Exercise?

Physical activity refers to any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle. Physical activity can be broadly categorized as structured exercise and physical activity, and unstructured physical activity such as daily living activities. Structured exercise and physical activity is a planned and repetitive bodily movement that improves components of physical fitness such as aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.

Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Physical activity and exercise participation have many benefits in cardiac rehabilitation, including improving functional capacity, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), glucose control, body composition, and risk factor modification. Exercise training is beneficial for modulating the autonomic nervous system, which is beneficial in decreasing heart rate and improving cardiac output. There are psychological benefits as well, including reducing anxiety, and depression, and promoting quality of life.

Physical Activity and Exercise Recommendations for Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

Cardiac rehabilitation programs should include a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days per week for eight weeks for individuals with known cardiovascular disease, plus structured resistance exercise at least twice per week. Walking, jogging, stair climbing, cycling, and in-line skating are all examples of moderate-intensity endurance exercises. However, individuals should consult with their healthcare provider prior to starting an exercise program to determine the proper intensity. Resistance training should include 10 -15 repetitions of 10 – 15 different exercises two to three times per week, with two to three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions.

Monitoring Exercise Intensity

Exercise intensity should be monitored to optimize benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends target heart rate training zones, as well as the rating of perceived exertion scale. Target heart rate zones are defined as 55- 70%, 70- 85% of maximum heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion scale is a scale from 6-20. It is important to include training in all three zones to achieve maximum benefits.

Safety During Physical Activity and Exercise

It is important to adhere to safety guidelines when participating in physical activity. These guidelines include wearing appropriate clothing and shoes, ensuring correct posture, warm-up and cool-down periods, and drinking water for hydration. Individuals should always check with their physician prior to starting any type of exercise program.

Conclusion

Physical activity and exercise have been shown to be beneficial in cardiovascular rehabilitation. Regular physical activity and exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve overall health. It is important to adhere to safety guidelines when participating in physical activity, and always check with a physician prior to beginning an exercise program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore the responses to frequently asked questions regarding cardiovascular rehabilitation through physical activity in this comprehensive guide.

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How much physical activity or exercise is recommended?

 It is recommended that individuals with known cardiovascular disease participate in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days per week for eight weeks, plus structured resistance exercise at least twice per week.

What are the benefits of physical activity and exercise in cardiac rehabilitation?

Physical activity and exercise have many benefits in cardiac rehabilitation, including improving functional capacity, reducing cholesterol levels, blood glucose control, changing body composition, and risk factor modification.

What safety guidelines should be followed when participating in physical activities?

Safety guidelines when participating in physical activities include wearing appropriate clothing and shoes, ensuring correct posture, warm-up and cool-down periods, and drinking water for hydration.

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