Exercise Therapy for Children

Look up a term in The Heart Center glossary.

Exercise therapy is the use of a planned program of exercise designed specifically for an individual's health and fitness needs. It can be a valuable tool to help with one's heart functioning and aerobic fitness. It can take place within the formal setting of a hospital and clinic or can be performed more informally (but just as regularly) at home.

Exercise therapy consists of exercising by walking or running on a treadmill, biking, playing, doing sports activities or lifting weights. Exercise therapy can be done on an individual or group basis.

Exercise can improve heart function, exercise performance, and enhance the ability to perform activities of daily living.  Additionally, it can reduce symptoms associated with exertion, improve cardiovascular disease risk factors (lower blood pressure, improve blood lipids, reduce insulin resistance and glucose intolerance), and reverse anxiety and depression. This will lead to an improved quality of life.

Exercise is a key component in weight-loss programs and in improving one's fitness level. An individual will come to the exercise session and be guided through and be motivated by an experienced exercise physiologist or physical therapist.

One should prepare for the exercise session in the following ways:

  • Do not eat or have any caffeine at least one to two hours before the exercise session.
  • Be properly hydrated and bring additional water to the exercise session.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes to the exercise session.

Is exercise therapy painful or uncomfortable?

One may feel tired, out of breath, and there may be some sweating. Once on a regular program of exercise, one may not feel as tired as quickly and will not be as short of breath.

Who performs / prescribes the exercise therapy treatment?

The cardiologist will recommend cardiac rehabilitation or exercise therapy. Experienced exercise physiologists or physical therapists carry out the individualized sessions.

How often are exercise sessions recommended?

The individual and his/her exercise physiologist or physical therapist will determine the frequency of sessions, as guided by the referring physician. In general, the treatment consists of moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes every day, including three days per week of strength and bone-loading exercises. These exercises may be performed within the formal hospital / clinic setting or at home.

Is exercise therapy risky or dangerous?

The benefits of exercise are indisputable and outweigh the risks. Complications rarely occur, but if they do, the staff is equipped to handle such complications.

Contact Cincinnati Children's Heart Institute

Cardiac Exercise Rehabilitation Program
Yvette Gerdes, MS, RCEP, CCRP
Phone: 513-636-4703
Fax: 513-636-9280
Email: yvette.gerdes@cchmc.org

Last Updated 10/2015