Benefits of exercise

The benefits of habitual exercise can be viewed as a combination of physiological and psychosocial. In a review of CR post-MI, regular exercise was found to reduce the risk of overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality. In addition, exercise is associated with improved activity tolerance, modification of risk factors and improvement in quality of life (Gassner, et al., 2003).

Physiological Benefits

Physical functioning improves after CR in all age, sex and diagnostic groups, but particularly in patients with low baseline exercise function (McArdle, et al., 2001). For the cardiac patient there are many physiological benefits attributed to exercise training. Many of these changes impart a cardioprotective effect. A study by Leon (2000), reviewing the scientific evidence supporting the potential benefits of exercise post-MI, found the following:

• improvement in functional capacity (strong evidence);

• improved cardiovascular efficiency;

• reduction in atherogenic and thrombotic risk factors;

• improvement in coronary blood flow, reduced myocardial ischaemia and severity of coronary atherosclerosis;

• reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

Psychosocial Benefits

Participation in habitual exercise not only has potential impact on physiological function, including reducing cardiac risk factors, but can also aid and enhance psychosocial outcomes. Habitual exercise has potential for the following benefits:

• reduction in depression and anxiety

• enhanced mood status

• enhanced self-efficacy

• restoration of self-confidence

• decreased illness behaviour

• increased social interaction

• resumption of chores/hobbies

• resumption of sexual activities

• return to vocation/work (Ross and Thow, 1997; Goble and Worcester, 1999).

Cardiac Rehabilitation Overview

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