How is a heart exercise program determined?

An article published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology discusses new digital software that is individualized to a patient in hopes of optimizing a patient’s heart exercise program.This digital training and decision support system may help overcome previous barriers to implementing a heart exercise program.

This digital software referred to as EXPERT  allows for a printed our heart exercise plan.

We know that exercise is important to help prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol but how much heart exercise do we need?

Heart exercise digital software program

This digital software provides a disease-specific heart exercise program which will include intensity level, frequency, type of exercises and duration. The heart exercise program will also suggest exercise training safety advice. The idea is to provide a personalized workout plan based on the patient’s risk factors and current medical conditions.

The papers lead author, Professor Dominique Hansen stated: “surveys have shown that many clinicians experience great difficulties in prescribing specific exercise programs for patients with multiple cardiovascular diseases and risk factors.”

Without a detailed specific heart exercise plan, it is difficult for a patient to judge how much exercise is enough.

According to the article,

“the clinician inputs the patient’s characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions, medications, adverse events during exercise testing, and physical fitness (from a cardiopulmonary exercise test).”

Individualizing the heart exercise program

It is important to individualize the heart exercise plan.  Depending on other medical problems certain exercises need to be avoided. The article gives the example of a patient with diabetic retinopathy which is an eye condition that diabetics can develop. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness, patients with this condition should avoid certain types of exercise such as high interval intensity training. High-intensity interval training involves strenuous exercising for short of time. For example, if you were walking you may do a fast run for 3 minutes then slow down. High-intensity interval training has been shown to increase metabolism and help with weight loss.

A heart exercise program can be printed out and handed to the patient after the patient’s information is entered.


Hansen D, et al. The European Association of Preventive Cardiology Exercise Prescription in Everyday Practice and Rehabilitative Training tool: A digital training and decision support system for optimized exercise prescription in cardiovascular disease. Concept, definitions and construction methodology. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. 2017. DOI: 10.1177/2047487317702042

Exercise after a heart attack

If you have had a heart attack and are deconditioned you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation or an individualized physical therapy program to assist with heart exercise. Skilled intervention can help increase endurance, gait and balance which will allow for increased strenuous exercise. Your doctor will help formulate a heart exercise plan with you to provide the best outcome. Programs like EXPERT mentioned above can also be used in patients who have suffered a heart attack.

How common is heart disease?

The American Heart Association reports that 16 million adult Americans have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and it is responsible for 500,000 fatalities each year.

How does exercise reduce the risk of other medical problems?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine,

High blood pressure

Exercise will reduce blood pressure which can help reduce the risk of heart attacks.


Regular aerobic activity will reduce resting blood sugar.

High cholesterol

Exercise will help lower bad cholesterol also referred to as LDL.


Exercise will help maintain a healthy weight.

What do you think of a computer generated heart exercise program?

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