Playing and being physically active should be a part of every childhood — it brings kids together and offers many benefits both mentally and physically. And yet, some kids — and adults — with congenital heart defects (CHDs) miss out on physical activity because of their condition.
The Cardiac Fitness Program at Boston Children’s Hospital was built on the belief that people with CHD can and should achieve the same benefits of exercise as their peers. Our program — one of only a few in the country — offers a supervised, individually tailored exercise and education program for children and adults with congenital heart conditions and pediatric-acquired heart disease. The benefits of exercise often extend well beyond fitness and health, to greater confidence and improved overall quality of life.
Meet Sam: Born with a complete heart block, Sam never thought he could be active.
‘Find Your Possible’
We believe everyone has the right to experience the confidence and joy that comes from being active. When we get moving, we find strength, fun, health and new possibilities. In fact, when we become more active, we often learn we are stronger and more capable than we ever imagined. This is when you start to “Find Your Possible,” with the benefits extending beyond fitness and health, to a greater confidence and improved overall quality of life.
Find your possible: Our friends at the Boston Red Sox know that being active helps them focus, work hard, and become champions.
What are the goals of the Cardiac Fitness Program?
Our goal is to help patients go beyond rehabilitation to reach a level of fitness they didn’t realize they could achieve. We want to empower kids with CHD to participate in exercise, become more fit, and gain self-confidence and life skills.
Another goal of the program is to help our patients develop a positive attitude about exercise and physical activity. We want to help our patients discover strengths and abilities they may not have known they possessed.
Who can benefit from the Cardiac Fitness Program?
We typically see patients ages 8 and older who could benefit from being more active, are recovering from surgery, or need help developing safe and effective exercise practices. We work with people who have a wide range of heart conditions. All our patients are assessed by a specialized exercise cardiologist for risk and eligibility.
Is cardiac fitness safe for those with a heart condition?
Yes. Studies show that serious complications during supervised exercise training are rare. In the event of an emergency, we have appropriate equipment on site. We monitor each patient’s heart rate and rhythm, and we're implementing state-of-the-art wireless telemetry during exercise.
Our expertise in cardiac fitness
Our large patient volume, combined with our clinical expertise and strong academic resources, set our program apart from others of its kind. Our team includes pediatric and adult congenital cardiologists, exercise physiologists, and a nutritionist who share the same aim: to help patients enjoy physical activity, improve overall health, and build exercise into their daily routine.
Our five cardiologists specialize in understanding exercise physiology for patients with congenital heart conditions. Together, they have more than 70 years of experience in the assessment and management of exercise-related concerns in congenital heart patients of all ages. Our four exercise physiologists, all masters-level trained with extensive clinical experience, work with our cardiologists to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients.