Exercise: Is it worth the effort? Or should we just lie down until the thought passes?
Most patients with coronary artery disease risk should engage in individually-designed exercise programmes to achieve optimal physical and emotional health. It is recommended that programs include a comprehensive pre-exercise medical evaluation, including a graded exercise test; and an individualized exercise prescription.
Appropriate exercise programs have multiple documented benefits.
These benefits include:
enhanced functional capacity, and
higher psychological functioning;
and improvements in:
blood lipid profiles;
(in diabetic patients) glucose tolerance; and
stopping cigarette smoking.
What benefit is there for people with existing heart conditions?
Published studies have documented the beneficial effects of cardiac rehabilitation programs in reducing subsequent coronary artery disease mortality.[29,30] Compared with control groups, patients assigned to exercise-based rehabilitation programs experienced a 20-25% reduction in fatal cardiovascular events and total mortality.
What testing is required?
Before beginning an exercise program, patients with coronary artery disease require a complete medical history revew, a physical examination, and a graded exercise test.
How much is enough?
Frequency: The minimum frequency is three non-consecutive days per week. Some patients prefer to exercise daily. However with increased frequency of exercise, the risk of musculoskeletal injury increases.
Duration: Warm-up and cool-down periods of at least ten minutes each, including stretching and flexibility exercises, should precede and follow twenty to forty minutes of cardiovascular exercise. is exercise should be performed either continuously or through interval training. The latter may be especially useful for patients with peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication.
Intensity: The exercise in supervised programs is performed at a moderate, comfortable intensity, generally 40-85% of maximal functional capacity