Cardiac rehab exercises are simply progressive exercises that takes you from like being sedentary to being able to sustain some activity. After fifteen years of a sedentary lifestyle and fifteen years of smoking, I decided enough was enough and started to train for a marathon. The marathon I was gunning for was one and half years away, but I knew training had to start NOW! It was like I was starting on a cardiac rehab exercise program, as I was really unhealthy. I knew I needed to exercise but I can’t stress enough that going through this process has saved me, more that I probably know. At first I didn’t know where to begin I started to run on the treadmill but that didn’t work as I was winded after a few minutes. So I realized that I had to take it slower and not be in such a rush and started to walk. I started on the treadmill at a 3.8 mph or a brisk walk and walked for 20 minutes. I knew I wasn’t going back to smoking and I knew I needed some help. So I decided to buy a heart rate monitor. I set my target heart rate at 65% of my max heart rate and walked. At first I walked for 20 minutes 3 times per week and watched to see how easy it was to get my heart rate up to training mode so fast. Once I mastered that I walked for 30 minutes and kept going until I was able to walk for 90 minutes at a brisk pace. It took me 6 weeks to get me to the 90 minute walk, but I did it. I felt so good I wanted to keep exercising. It has been proven that cardiac exercise releases endorphins; these endorphins are natural pain killers and have natural mood alterations. One exercise regime flows into the next and your body gets addicted for more of the “good” stuff.
Walking is a great cardiac rehab exercise and may not seem like an exercise regime, but don’t sell it short. Walking is a great way to get back into shape after cardiac surgery or any procedure that has taken its toll on the body. Any activity that raises the heart is considered exercising. There are aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises. The difference is the fuel the body uses: oxygen versus lactate. If you hold your heart rate at 65% of maximum you are exercising at the upper limit of your aerobic threshold. What activity that takes to get you there is determined by your fitness level. For example my fitness was horrible I couldn’t make it up the stairs of my two story house before I was winded; good thing I was going to bed anyways. So a steady walk was needed for me to keep my heart at 65% of my maximum heart rate. Since I trained religiously my fitness improved. It takes time for the body to adapt; it takes two weeks to notice any changes. What you do today will be noticed in two weeks, as a general rule. So that is why patience is key in your cardiac rehab exercises, as your body adapts changes are slow, but they do happen.
Some people enjoy walking so much that they never move on to running, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is you’re exercising. You’re getting out and enjoying nature you’re improving your cardiovascular system. A word to the wise, once you get to the point where walking is easy make sure you vary it up to fool your body so that your body still adapts. Once the body gets used to a certain activity it stops adapting and you never make anymore gains. So vary the cardiac rehab exercises add isometric exercises like sit-ups and push-ups and walk up hills. Wear your heart rate monitor and if you are recovering from surgery take it slow and watch your heart rate; DON’T OVER DO IT!