Understanding physical activity and exercise behaviors in patients with heart failure

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Explore perceptions of physical activity/exercise in patients with chronic heart failure (HF).


Although activity/exercise are HF self-care expectations, perceptions of patients are not well understood.


Ambulatory adults with HF were interviewed. Data were transcribed, categorized, and themes were developed.


Of 48 participants, mean age was 58.8 ± 13.2 years. Themes that emerged were: patients not knowing and physicians not telling; scared into doing or not doing it; life gets in the way; meaningful support versus meaningless talk; emotional connections to exercise; value does not equal motivation to move; and disconnection between self-confidence and actions. Self-confidence in and value of physical activity/exercise were not primary motivators to action. Generally, physicians failed to provide details regarding exercise dose, length, warm-up and cool-down expectations, and usual and adverse effects.


Patient perceptions of what physical activity/exercise means are multi-dimensional; and fears, emotions, priority and participatory social support contribute to adherence.

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