Energy expenditure in US automotive technicians and occupation-specific cardiac rehabilitation

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Abstract

Background

The standard exercise protocol for patients in a traditional cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) programme may not be adequate for preparing manual workers for a safe return to work, as these activities bear little resemblance to the physical movements and force exertion required in most industrial jobs.

Aims

To measure the energy expenditure as metabolic equivalents (METs) required for automotive technicians, to compare this MET level with that normally attained in traditional cardiac rehab programmes and to suggest cardiac rehab exercises for automotive technicians based on specificity of training.

Methods

Automotive technicians who volunteered to participate had their MET levels measured while they performed a defined series of work tasks in the service department of an automobile dealership. Their daily walking distance was also determined.

Results

Thirty-six of 95 eligible subjects participated; a response rate of 38%. Mean peak MET level was 7.1, less than the 8 METs target training goal often used in traditional cardiac rehab programmes. However, patients’ outcome MET levels in cardiac rehab are usually measured by a treadmill stress test, whereas the subjects reached 7.1 METs while performing work tasks. The subjects walked an average of 5 km during a normal workday.

Conclusions

Because MET level measurements are work specific, automotive technicians in a cardiac rehab programme should strive to reach and maintain a level of >7 METs while performing specific training exercises that mimic the work tasks they must do throughout the day. They can also benefit from traditional endurance training such as treadmill walking.

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