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Basics of Exercise Prescriptions

February is American Hearth Month, and our Cardiac Rehab nurse, Brianna Sherlock, RN, shared how she helps patients get their heart back to healthy.

Exercise prescription:

Phase II cardiac rehab programs (what we do here at BBGH) includes a carefully designed exercise prescription that is specific to each patient. Patients will engage in monitored, (using our LSI telemetry system) aerobic exercise while here; meaning they will do exercises that use large muscle groups, increase heart rate and breathing rate and utilize motions that are repetitive. The most commonly used machines are a NuStep, stationary bike, arm ergometer, elliptical, rower and walking on either a treadmill or the walking track. Our typical exercise prescriptions for patients include having the patient utilize 4 different machines (we suggest 4 but ideally they can pick the 4 aerobic machines they enjoy most) and then starting out at 5 minutes per machine. Each week the patient will go up one minute per machine until they reach their goal of 10 minutes per machine. Most patients are allotted 36 sessions total which averages out to 12 weeks as the patient’s exercise 3 days per week at the Wellness Center.

We use the patient’s target heart rate (THR), vital signs, and rating of perceived exertion (BORG RPE) scale to gauge exercise tolerance. Depending on the patient’s current signs and symptoms, past medical history (particularly their most recent cardiac event), and overall physical health this will help guide the cardiac rehab staff in creating an exercise prescription that fits the patients’ needs best.