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Upper-Body Progressive Resistance Training Improves Strength and Household Physical Activity Performance in Women Attending Cardiac Rehabilitation

Coke, Lola A. PhD, APRN-BC, CNS; Staffileno, Beth A. PhD, RN; Braun, Lynne T. PhD, APRN-BC; Gulanick, Meg PhD, APRN-BC

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention: July-August 2008 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 238–245
doi: 10.1097/01.HCR.0000327180.29122.83

PURPOSE The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of moderate-intensity, progressive, upper-body resistance training (RT) on muscle strength and perceived performance of household physical activities (HPA) among women in cardiac rehabilitation.

METHODS The 10-week, pretest-posttest, experiment randomized women to either usual care (UC) aerobic exercise or RT. Muscle strength for 5 upper-body RT exercises (chest press, shoulder press, biceps curl, lateral row, and triceps extension) was measured using the 1-Repetition Maximum Assessment. The RT group progressively increased weight lifted using 40%, 50%, and 60% of obtained 1-Repetition Maximum Assessment at 3-week intervals. Perceived performance of HPA was measured with the Kimble Household Activities Scale.

RESULTS The RT group (n = 16, mean age 64 ± 11) significantly increased muscle strength in all 5 exercises in comparison with the UC group (n = 14, mean age 65 ± 10) (chest press, 18% vs 11%; shoulder press, 24% vs 14%; biceps curl, 21% vs 12%; lateral row, 32% vs 9%; and triceps extension, 28% vs 20%, respectively). By study end, Household Activities Scale scores significantly increased (F = 13.878, P = .001) in the RT group (8.75 ± 3.19 vs 11.25 ± 2.14), whereas scores in the UC group decreased (8.60 ± 3.11 vs 6.86 ± 4.13).

CONCLUSION Progressive upper-body RT in women shows promise as an effective tool to increase muscle strength and improve the ability to perform HPA after a cardiac event. Beginning RT early after a cardiac event in a monitored cardiac rehabilitation environment can maximize the strengthening benefit.

The randomized controlled trial examined the impact of moderate-intensity, upper-body, progressive resistance training on household physical activity and muscle strength in women attending cardiac rehabilitation. Results showed significantly increased muscle strength and household physical activities performed. Progressive resistance training shows promise in improving the lifestyle of women after a cardiac event.

Rush University College of Nursing (Drs Coke, Staffileno, and Braun), and Loyola University Neihoff School of Nursing (Dr Gulanick), Chicago, Illinois.

Corresponding Author: Lola A. Coke, PhD, APRN-BC, CNS, Rush University College of Nursing, 600 S Paulina, Office 1056B, Chicago, IL 60612 (

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.