Cardiac rehabilitation is a long-term maintenance program, and you'll generally need to continue the habits and follow the skills you learned in the program for the rest of your life. After about three months, you likely 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, a fitness center or a club. You may also exercise with friends or family. You may remain under medical supervision during this time, particularly if you have special health concerns.

Education about nutrition, lifestyle and healthy weight 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 may:

  • Gain strength
  • Learn heart-healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet
  • Cut bad habits, such as smoking
  • Manage your weight
  • Find ways to manage stress
  • Learn how to cope with heart disease
  • 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 may come out of the program feeling even better than before you had a heart condition or had heart surgery.