The primary purpose of the study was to assess whether physical activity (PA) habits change following 4 to 6 weeks of an early outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR) program. A secondary purpose was to determine whether the PA habits differ on days attending CR versus not attending CR.
Fourteen men and 8 women completed the study (age = 65.6 ± 13.2 years, body mass index = 29.1 ± 4.6 kg/m2). Subjects wore an accelerometer during the entry and exit weeks of CR participation. Steps per day, activity counts per observation minute, percentage time spent inactive, light-intensity PA minutes per day, and moderate-intensity PA minutes per day were compared both at entry and exit from CR and on days attending CR and not attending CR.
From entry to exit of the early outpatient CR, patients increased total PA behavior (194.4 ± 2 to 217.8 ± 15.3 activity counts per observation minute) and time spent in moderate-intensity PA (13.9 ± 2.3 to 18.7 ± 2.5 min/d). Patients were more active, both in total activity (224.0 ± 15.6 activity counts per observation minute vs 188.2 ± 14.5 activity counts per observation minute) and in moderate intensity (19.7 ± 3.3 min/d vs 12.8 ± 2.0 min/d), on days they attended CR than on days they did not attend CR.
These data support the value of early outpatient CR programs for increasing patient PA levels, particularly moderate-intensity PA on days during which patients attended CR. Because PA targets for coronary risk reduction are not being achieved when patients exit CR, referral to a maintenance CR program and support for performing PA on days they do not attend CR become essential.