Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to improve the health of individuals suffering from heart problems. Individuals in cardiac rehab programs are referred by physicians and other health professionals. The length of the program depends on the insurance provider and ranges from three to 16 weeks -- sometimes longer. During cardiac rehab, patients participate in supervised exercise, health education sessions and counseling. The exercises in cardiac rehab are fairly easy and are prescribed by a physician and/or exercise physiologist following fitness testing.
If you're in or have recently finished a cardiac rehab program, it's best to get physician clearance before exercising at home or outside of a supervised medical facility. The medical team has to ensure that it is safe for you to exercise at a commercial gym or other workout facility. They are best suited to provide you with workouts that are safe and designed for your individual fitness needs.
Walking is the easiest form of cardiovascular exercise you can perform. It's an activity of daily living and is easily adjustable to create a challenging workout for your heart and lungs. All you need is a good pair of athletic shoes. Walk for 10 to 20 minutes per session in your neighborhood or at your local gym on a treadmill. You can walk in 10-minute increments three to four times a day or for 45 minutes straight for maximum cardiovascular benefit.
Performing a pushup on the wall is just as effective as performing one on the floor. Get clearance from your physician to perform upper body exercise if you have recently undergone chest surgery. The wall pushup strengthens the muscles of the chest and triceps. To perform the wall pushup, stand arms-length away from a wall. Place your palms up against the wall with your arms extended, at the level of your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall. Pause for two to three seconds with your elbows bent, then extend your arms and return to your starting position. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions.
The chair sit mimics an everyday activity but provides a workout for the lower body. To perform the chair sit, place a sturdy chair -- with arm handles and without wheels -- up against the wall. Stand in front of the chair and turn your body away from the chair so that you can sit down. Place your feet hip-distance apart with your toes pointing straight ahead. Bend your knees and lower your buttocks toward the chair. Just before you are about to sit down, straighten your legs and return to your starting position. Repeat this bending and extending of your legs until your legs fatigue or for 10 to 12 repetitions.
The arm curl strengthens the biceps muscles in the front of your upper arm. To perform this exercise, you'll need a light pair of dumbbells or soup cans. You can perform the exercise either standing or seated. Hold the weighted object in each hand with your palms facing forward, arms extended. Exhale and bend your elbows, bringing your palms up toward your shoulders. Hold this position for one to two seconds and then extend your elbows, returning to your starting position. Repeat the bending and extending of your elbows for 10 to 12 repetitions or until fatigued.
- "Health Fitness Management: A Comprehensive Resource for Managing and Operating Programs and Facilities, 2nd Edition"; Mike Bates; 2007
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?; August 2009