Tips to Make the Most Out of Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

When your doctor prescribes a cardiac rehabilitation program to you, it’s important to understand that you’re not out of the woods yet.  While you might have made it through the worst part, there is still going to be a lot of work to do on your part.  The key is for you to get started right now.  According to the phase of cardiac rehabilitation you are in, get moving today.  Get your doctor’s permissions before starting anything new, but the point is get started!

Which Phase of Cardiac Rehabilitation are You In?

Before you figure out which actions are going to benefit you most, it’s important to understand that there are three major phases of cardiac rehabilitation.  Which phase you are in will determine the amount of activity you should be participating in as well as a number of other health-related factors such as diet and stress levels.

Talk to your doctor about your cardiac rehabilitation level.  Here is a general overview of each phase:

  1. Phase I: Phase I is when you are still in the hospital and you receive your first visit from a cardiac rehabilitation clinician.  This marks the beginning of Phase I.  Here you will receive educational materials and be able to ask any questions about the process you might have.  You will also start simple exercises and begin your transition to Phase II.
  2. Phase II:  Phase II is represented by a 3-month outpatient program that focuses on education and exercise.  The goal here is to create a personalized exercise plan and nutritional plan that will help you get into better shape.  Smoking-cessation information and stress management classes are also provided, along with monitoring and tests.
  3. Phase III:  Finally, Phase III is the long-term maintenance program that you will stay on after Phase II.  This can consist of health clubs or anything else, but the goal here is to really understand that cardiac rehabilitation is a lifelong and ongoing process.

Tips for Doing Well in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Now that you can sort of determine what phase and stage you’re at, here are some tips to help you make the most out of your cardiac rehabilitation program, ensuring you get healthy as quickly as possible.

  • Make little changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car at the far end of the parking lot and walking.
  • Weight yourself at the same time each day, generally as soon as you wake up before you do anything else.  If you gain more than three pounds in a single day or more than five pounds in a single week, notify your doctor immediately.
  • Take a brief siesta (nap) after your midday meal, or if this is impossible, at least put your feet up and give your heart a little rest every few hours.  When you’re sitting at home relaxing, try to keep your feet up as well.
  • Stop smoking cigarettes and any other form of tobacco.  Not only is it bad for your entire vascular system, it also puts undue stress on your entire body.  Oh, and we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of cancer.
  • Prop your head up with pillows at night to improve circulation while you sleep.
  • Try to pick the best times to exercise.  For instance, it’s great to exercise within the first hour of waking up, but not if there is heavy pollution or allergens in the air.  You want to breathe in the purest air possible to make sure that you’re getting nothing but healthier as your cardiac rehabilitation progresses.
  • Take a yoga or meditation class, or if not, at least try to meditate or sit quietly on your own for 20 minutes each day.  This will help relax your heart and give it a rest.
  • Make your exercise a routine.  Do it at the same time each day until it becomes ingrained in your lifestyle and you do it without even thinking.

Here are the simple things to do to prevent heart diseases and improve your overall health.


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