It remains unclear whether self-regulated exercise is sufficient to maintain the benefits acquired during formal cardiac rehabilitation (CR). This retrospective observational study investigated the effects of a home-based exercise intervention after discharge from CR upon anthropometric and aerobic capacity markers in clinically stable patients.
Fifty patients with cardiovascular disease were discharged after 6 months of CR and encouraged to maintain aerobic exercise without supervision. Subsequent to 6 months of follow-up, patients were assigned to compliant (n = 34) or noncompliant (n = 16) groups according to their compliance to the home-based program. Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2peak) and anthropometric data were assessed before CR, at discharge, and after 6 months of follow-up.
No statistical differences between compliant and noncompliant groups were observed at baseline and at discharge from CR. At the end of the follow-up, statistical differences across groups were not found for body mass or body mass index, but increases in VO2peak (+3.6 vs. –0.6 ml/kg·min, P = 0.004) and oxygen pulse (+1.5 vs. +0.2 ml/bpm, P = .03) were greater in compliant than noncompliant group.
Self-regulated exercising following CR discharge seems to be effective to maintain gains in exercise capacity acquired during supervised center-based programs.