Cardiac Rehabilitation Phase IV: Long-Term Lifestyle Change
Phase IV is often referred to as the maintenance phase of cardiac rehabilitation (rehab), because it emphasizes long-term lifestyle changes, such as a regular exercise program. The program will help you practice and keep healthy behaviors and habits.
Your goals are to:
Phase IV programs are usually held at a community facility or at home and will be tailored to your specific needs.
Regular communication with your rehab staff or doctor for periodic reviews and assessments is an important part of phase IV. Your progress will be monitored by several rehab staff members. The number of rehab sessions you have each week will vary depending upon the structure of your program.
Your rate of recovery depends on age, gender, and other health conditions. Depending upon your condition and how you respond to rehab, you may stay in a certain phase or move back and forth among the phases. There is no set length of time that you must stay in a certain phase.
Your rehab staff will give you information and tools to enforce healthy habits, such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, and dealing with stress. You will also get tips on nutrition and taking your medicines.
Phase IV focuses on making lifestyle changes part of your everyday life.
The following exercises are examples. Your exercise program depends on your medical history, clinical status, and symptoms and whether you have had heart problems or heart surgery. Discuss additional physical limitations or medical issues with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
Your exercise program will include stretching, aerobic exercise, and strength training. A daily exercise routine is encouraged.
Stretching and flexibility
Stretching should be a part of your warm-up and cooldown every time you exercise. There are many benefits from an increase in flexibility, including an increase in the length of time that you can continue to be active.
Aerobic exercise in phase IV rehab is a program designed for a lifetime of commitment. Make it enjoyable by choosing activities that you like. It is still important that you use your target heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and modify your intensity as you improve or face difficulties.
Strength training continues to be an important part of your overall physical rehabilitation and conditioning. Gradually progress as you feel comfortable. But more important: combine it with your aerobic training. Be sure to monitor your progress toward your goals.
Continue to follow the recommendations on correct technique, breathing, and intensity to improve and/or keep your muscular strength and endurance.
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