Background: Patients who have completed Phase II cardiac rehabilitation have low rates of maintenance of exercise after program completion, despite the importance of sustaining regular exercise to prevent future cardiac events. Purpose: The efficacy of a home-based intervention to support exercise maintenance among patients who had completed Phase II cardiac rehabilitation versus contact control was evaluated. Design: An RCT was used to evaluate the intervention. Data were collected in 20052010 and analyzed in 2010. Setting/participants: One hundred thirty patients (mean age=63.6 years [SD=9.7], 20.8% female) were randomized to exercise counseling (Maintenance Counseling group, n=64) or contact control (Contact Control group, n=66). Intervention: Maintenance Counseling group participants received a 6-month program of exercise counseling (based on the transtheoretical model and social cognitive theory) delivered via telephone, as well as print materials and feedback reports. Main outcome measures: Assessments of physical activity (7-Day Physical Activity Recall), motivational readiness for exercise, lipids, and physical functioning were conducted at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Objective accelerometer data were collected at the same time points. Fitness was assessed via maximal exercise stress tests at baseline and 6 months. Results: The Maintenance Counseling group reported significantly higher exercise participation than the Contact Control group at 12 months (difference of 80 minutes, 95% CI=22, 137). Group differences in exercise at 6 months were nonsignificant. The intervention significantly increased the probability of participants' exercising at or above physical activity guidelines and attenuated regression in motivational readiness versus the Contact Control Group at 6 and 12 months. Self-reported physical functioning was significantly higher in the Maintenance Counseling group at 12 months. No group differences were seen in fitness at 6 months or lipid measures at 6 and 12 months. Conclusions: A telephone-based intervention can help maintain exercise, prevent regression in motivational readiness for exercise, and improve physical functioning in this patient population. Trial registration number: This study is registered in Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 00230724). © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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