Saturday, 28th January 2023

The New Cardiac Rehab Blog

Dear Readers

This week sees the birth of my new blog – now hosted by the Alton Cardiac Rehab website. The readership has expanded and includes:

  1. All the previous subscribers.
  2. All active exercisers at Alton Cardiac Rehab
  3. Some people who are both 1 and 2.

Alton Cardiac Rehab

Many of you will know nothing about the Alton Cardiac Rehab Centre so I thought that you might be interested to read a bit about it. When I was a hospital doctor (1969, before some of you were borne), I worked for an unusual and creative cardiologist, Peter Nixon. At that time if you had a heart attack you were treated in hospital with several week’s bed-rest – and when discharged you were advised to spend the rest of your miserable days sitting about and avoiding too much exertion. Peter did not believe in this approach. He got his heart attack patients out of bed and sent them down to the City Gym, run by Al Murray, an ex Olympic weight-lifting coach. Peter’s colleagues thought he was mad – but his patients flourished.

In 1974 I gave up cardiology and entered General Practice in Alton. The local Sports Centre seemed the ideal place to try Peter’s approach and together with Allen Larvan, an exercise instructor, we set up an exercise programme for local heart attack patients.. They seemed to benefit and enjoy it and we soon became the first port of call of all patients discharged from the Basingstoke Coronary Care Unit. We were joined by Sally Turner who developed the programme from our initial exercise-only sessions to a comprehensive approach, including smoking cessation, dietary counselling and psychological support. We started to take on people with other cardiac problems such as post-cardiac surgery, heart transplant and heart failure.

Over the next 15 years the Alton Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit outgrew the facilities offered by the Sports Centre – so we formed a Charity and raised money to build our own Centre which opened in 1997 – and is  illustrated above. The number of patients  continued to rise until the the late noughties when some of the measures to prevent heart disease were beginning to kick in, numbers fell and we had space to expand our services.

We started to take on people at increased risk of heart disease – a new preventive role called the Staywell scheme. Since then the service has continued to expand to include most older people who might benefit from getting fitter we have started an entirely new programme – Steady and Strong – to help the frail elderly to improve their strength, balance and independence.

So now the main objective of our Centre is to help as many people as possible to improve their physical fitness to prevent the degenerative conditions of later life and to help them enjoy a thoroughly healthy and active life.

The Blog

Exercise training is a highly effective measure for preventing and treating most of the degenerative conditions of later life – but it is seriously underused. Part of the reason may be ignorance of its effectiveness- both for patients and the medical profession. There is no place for the science of exercise in the medical training of doctors or most other medical disciplines. This Blog has been an attempt to encourage the use of exercise in the promotion and maintenance of good health and to give as much information as possible to those who might benefit from knowing all about it.

The first blog came out in June 2019. Over the past two years it has followed a logical development through the need  for more physical activity, the history of exercise, some of the physiology of movement and a description of those diseases which can be prevented and treated by exercise training. All the previous Blog posts are available on this site – just scroll through the old blogs. Next time I will also tell you how to look up specific subjects.

From now on the Blog will come out fortnightly, giving you an alternate week’s rest from my nagging. I will be presenting you with the most up-to-date information and research about various aspects of exercise and I will of course continue to nag.

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