Cardiac Rehabilitation: Monitoring Your Body's Response to Exercise - Topic Overview
There are several ways to measure your body's responses to exercise
and other lifestyle changes. You may want to keep track of the following
measurements during your exercise sessions at cardiac rehab and at home.
Target heart rate
Your target heart rate can guide you to how hard you need to
exercise so you can get the most aerobic benefit from your workout.
At the beginning of your
rehab, the staff may give you a target heart rate goal to start with. You can use your target heart rate to know how hard you need to exercise
to gain the most aerobic benefit from your workout. You will
probably exercise at the lower end of your target heart rate. As you progress
through the phases of cardiac rehab and you stay more active, you may exercise
harder (at the upper end of your target heart rate range).
Rating of perceived exertion
Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is a valuable and reliable
indicator in monitoring your exercise tolerance. It is usually used as part of
an organized cardiac rehab program. It is probably most useful to first learn
about RPE with a health professional, such as an exercise physiologist or
trainer. And then you may be able to use it when you exercise on your own.
During exercise, you will want to monitor for and report any chest pain to your
The RPE is a means of determining how hard you are exerting
yourself, including physiological (how hard you are breathing, how fast your
heart is beating) and muscular strain (how much you feel the exertion in your
muscles). The scale measures your answer to the question: "How hard do you feel
the exercise is?" The scale goes from 6 to 20.
|Rating number||Perceived exertion|
|6||Very, very light|
|19||Very, very hard|
If you are in a supervised cardiac rehab program, your blood
pressure (BP) will also be monitored in addition to HR and RPE. You may want to
be aware of your BP during exercise that you do by yourself. You should expect
a gradual increase in your systolic BP (the first number), while your diastolic
BP (the second number) should show very little change. If this does not happen,
consider any medicines you may be taking that could affect your BP and/or call
Angina symptoms are caused by your heart
muscle not getting enough blood flow (myocardial ischemia). Your angina may feel like chest pain or discomfort. But you might feel it in other parts of your body. In any case, note if
increased effort leads to any symptoms that can be relieved by rest or