Cardiac rehabilitation is a long-term maintenance program — something to follow for the rest of your life. After about 12 weeks, you probably will have developed your own exercise routine at home or at a local gym. You may also continue to exercise at a cardiac rehab center. You may remain under medical supervision during this time, particularly if you have special health concerns.

Education about nutrition, lifestyle and weight loss may continue, as well as counseling. To get the most benefits from cardiac rehabilitation, make sure your exercise and lifestyle practices become lifelong habits.

Over the long term, you'll gain strength; learn heart-healthy behaviors; improve your diet; cut bad habits, such as smoking; and learn how to cope with heart disease. You'll also decrease your risk of coronary artery disease and other heart conditions.

One of the most valuable benefits of cardiac rehabilitation is often an improvement in your overall quality of life. If you stick with your cardiac rehab program, you're likely to come out of the program feeling better than before.

Jun. 26, 2014