Everyone can benefit from exercise. But if you are recovering
from a heart attack or have other heart disease, the benefits of exercise will
be even greater than for most people. Cardiac rehab programs are designed to
restore and maintain your physical function. Whether your goal is to return to
work as soon as possible, live a more active lifestyle, or achieve a level of
independence to increase the quality of your life, exercise must be a regular
part of your routine.
To achieve your goal, you should involve yourself in activities that
include aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. During
recovery and then rehabilitation, your exercise program should be specifically
designed for you. It should safely progress from a supervised program monitored
by an exercise physiologist or other qualified professional to an independent,
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Your heart is a muscle with fibers that allow it to contract and
pump blood. Like other muscles in your body, your heart will respond to
exercise. When a muscle is used during exercise, the fibers inside it become
stronger and more efficient. Increasing your heart rate during aerobic exercise
not only strengthens the heart itself but also helps more blood circulate
through your body. Blood contains oxygen and nutrients that increase the health
and efficiency of many of your body's important systems.
After a heart attack, your heart is recovering from direct injury
from the event itself and possibly indirect injury due to surgery. A safe and
progressive exercise program will help your heart recover by helping to restore
its muscle strength and blood flow.
Other benefits of aerobic exercise
There are many other physical and mental benefits of aerobic
exercise for cardiac rehab.
Increases aerobic ability (the ability of
your body to use oxygen)
Increases lung volume and the lungs'
ability to take in oxygen
Reduces the demands on your heart both at
rest and during exercise
Lowers blood pressure
reduce your proportion of body fat
mild to moderate depression; improves mood, self-esteem, and
What about functional benefits?
Exercise also has specific benefits for your body's functions,
Size and strength of your muscles.
Efficiency of your muscles to use nutrients and oxygen.
your lungs to provide oxygen to your bloodstream.
Ability of your
body to transport oxygen to the working muscles and organs.
Strength and efficiency of the heart (increases the amount of blood pumped per
Benefits of strength training
Increased strength can help improve your risk factors for heart
disease and enhance your independence. Strength training has many benefits for
you during your recovery and rehabilitation.
When you have more muscle, your body burns
energy faster. This faster energy burn can help you manage your
Strength training can decrease the demands on your heart
when you do daily activities such as lifting.
can help improve your stability and reduce your chance of falling.
Strength training can help increase your bone mineral density and make your
bones stronger, especially if you are older.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
October 5, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
October 05, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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