"The benefits of a cardiac rehab program are well-established, but the gains tend to be temporary,” said William Kraus, MD, a Duke cardiologist who oversaw the study. “Good habits are hard to maintain for a lot of people once they are on their own and no longer have someone overseeing their progress.”
To understand whether a follow-up mobile health program could provide a measure of oversight and motivation outside of a gym-based regimen, Dr. Kraus and Duke exercise physiologist Brian Duscha developed a 12-week program that relied on activity trackers, a daily step count, and 12 weeks of personalized virtual sessions with a health coach who counseled the patients over the phone or computer. A small group of heart patients who were participating in cardiac rehab was enrolled in their small study. Following the conclusion of the 12-week program, the researchers compared participants' fitness and exercise levels to those of a group of cardiac rehab patients who did not participate in the 12-week post-cardiac-rehab mobile program.