How It All Began

Heart Wise Exercise (HWE) was created by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in response to the overwhelming evidence supporting the idea that “exercise is medicine.

For many years cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs have been providing those with cardiovascular risk factors and conditions guidance and tools to help integrate exercise into their everyday lives. The foundation of exercise training in CR programs has been the exercise prescription. When the clinician designs an exercise prescription, the goal is to provide both a safe program of exercise and one that is effective in reducing risk and optimizing functional capacity.

The Canadian Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention recommend that adults should accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes of aerobic-type activity most days of the week and that participation in exercise and physical activity programs should be incorporated into a lifelong program of heart healthy living. It became evident that there was a need to identify and create physical activity programs in the community that are safe and suitable for CR clients to compliment their CR programming.

Heart Wise Exercise forms a bridge between the clinical hospital setting and community-based exercise programs.

These programs are intended for:

  • Individuals living with cardiovascular disease
  • Those at risk and their family members
  • People of any age and physical condition who are interested or concerned about their health.

Many with a particular chronic health issue, especially in older populations, also have other chronic health issues.

In 2012, the HWE program began to reach out to those with chronic conditions beyond cardiovascular conditions. With the aging population in Canada, there is a need for individuals who are at risk to get involved in safe, appropriate, and easily accessible exercise classes and programs.