ABSTRACT

Background: Community-based exercise classes have the potential to sustain the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation for the prevention of future cardiovascular events. Such classes can be designed to address this need; however, whether such classes meet these objectives is rarely evaluated.

Methods: Facility managers, instructors, and class participants completed questionnaires. Two assessors observed exercise classes called “Heartmoves.” A maximum of 10 participants per class wore heart rate (HR) monitors. Mean and highest HR as percentage of age-predicted maximum were recorded for class components. At the end of classes, participants completed a 10-point rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. Data were compared with international guidelines for community exercise classes for individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Results: Twelve classes were observed with 82 participants. All classes included guideline-recommended components of warm-up, cooldown, strength, and aerobic conditioning; 58% of classes (n = 7) incorporated strength and aerobic conditioning in a circuit. Class participants exercised at low to moderate intensities as indicated by mean ± SD: HR (warm-up 55% ± 11% age-predicted maximum HR; cooldown 52 ± 11; strength 59 ± 11; aerobic conditioning 58 ± 12); and overall RPE (6 ± 2). Class participants' mean age was 70 ± 8 years; 27% (n = 24) were referred by health professionals; 73% (n = 61) attended for fitness; 61% (n = 50) had CVD risk factors; and 21% (n = 17) reported diagnosed CVD.

Conclusion: Community exercise classes for individuals with CVD, specifically those aligned with Heartmoves, may comply with international guidelines, although few class participants have diagnosed CVD.

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