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    Cardiac Rehabilitation Phase IV: Long-Term Lifestyle Change - Topic Overview

    Exercise program

    The following exercises are examples. Your exercise program depends on your medical history, clinical status, and symptoms and whether you have had heart problems or heart surgery. Discuss additional physical limitations or medical issues with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

    Your exercise program will include stretching, aerobic exercise, and strength training. A daily exercise routine is encouraged.

    Stretching and flexibility

    Stretching should be a part of your warm-up and cooldown every time you exercise. There are many benefits from an increase in flexibility, including an increase in the length of time that you can continue to be active.

    • Frequency: Do stretching exercises at least 3 days a week.
    • Intensity: Stretch to a position of mild discomfort.
    • Duration: Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
    • Repetition: Do each stretch 3 to 5 times.
    • Type: Control and hold without resistance, with emphasis on the lower back and legs.

    Aerobic exercise

    Aerobic exercise in phase IV rehab is a program designed for a lifetime of commitment. Make it enjoyable by choosing activities that you like. It is still important that you use your target heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and modify your intensity as you improve or face difficulties.

    Example program






    Aerobic (walking, swimming, biking, rowing, jogging)
    • Within target heart rate range
    • An RPE of 12 to 14 (somewhat hard to hard)
    • Until tolerance if no symptoms
    • Minimum of 3 to 4 times a week
    • Minimum of 5 days each week for weight loss
    • 15 to 60 minutes
    • Minimum of 45 to 60 minutes for weight loss
    • Increase heart rate.
    • Change type of activity.
    • Increase duration (gradually).

    Strength training

    Strength training continues to be an important part of your overall physical rehabilitation and conditioning. Gradually progress as you feel comfortable. But more important: combine it with your aerobic training. Be sure to monitor your progress toward your goals.

    Continue to follow the recommendations on correct technique, breathing, and intensity to improve and/or keep your muscular strength and endurance.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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