Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program

The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program is a medically supervised, individually tailored program consisting of exercise and education to help patients feel better, increase endurance and improve their overall quality of life. A multidisciplinary health care team helps treat patients with cardiac and/or pulmonary impairment who have limited physical condition and ability to function well in their lives. You may hear it called either “cardiac rehab” or “pulmonary rehab” or even just “rehab”. The programs are very similar, as they have many of the same components, and are both housed under the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Nationwide Children’s.

Who can benefit from cardiopulmonary rehabilitation?

Individuals of all ages who may be experiencing a decline in their physical activity or have difficulty performing activities of daily life may benefit from cardiopulmonary rehab. Anyone diagnosed with a condition that may impact their heart or lung function, including but not limited to, patients with cystic fibrosisasthmainterstitial lung diseasecongenital heart defectsobesity, scoliosis, transplant recipientssickle cell diseaseneuromuscular disease, recent heart surgery, and many other diagnoses may be appropriate for rehab.

What will I be doing in the program?

In this program you will be doing various types of exercise activity as well as receiving education about healthy lifestyle choices. We have various types of specialty staff to meet your needs, and you may see some or all of them while you are in the program. Every time you come to rehab you will be working one-on-one with a physical therapist (PT) or exercise physiologist (EP). You will participate in different types of exercises and gain the knowledge and skills to complete exercises at home. You will also be receiving education from dieticians, psychologists, and respiratory therapists (RT). A massage therapist (MT) is on staff to provide relaxing massages to help with pain, muscle soreness and increase circulation to the muscle tissues. You may also consult with a recreation therapist (TR) or occupational therapist (OT) to help you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and assist you with finding community resources to aid in your progress and return to work or school as soon as possible.

How long does the program last?

You will be asked to attend two to three days per week for a six to eight week time period. Each session is approximately two hours long. After six to eight weeks, the rehab team will assess your progress and goals to determine if further rehabilitation is necessary or a prescribed home exercise program is right for you. Our goal is to help keep you on track and incorporate daily exercise into your routine for years to come.

What are the benefits of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation?

Our program is designed to help you become more fit and able to participate in physical activities you may not have been able to before. Benefits of the program may include:

  • Reducing symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue
  • Reducing emotional stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improving muscle tone, flexibility and range of motion
  • Increasing energy level and spirits
  • Helping the body to become stronger and work better
  • Returning to work, school and other activities faster

Is cardiopulmonary rehabilitation safe?

Yes. Studies show that serious health problems caused by rehab exercise are rare. Our entire team is specially trained to handle emergencies if they should occur. In order to assure you are responding appropriately to rehab, you may be hooked to a heart monitor during exercise activities. Staff will also monitor heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure, weight, level of exertion, shortness of breath, and blood sugars if necessary.


This program is held in the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation area located at Nationwide Children's Hospital Outpatient Care on the fifth floor, across the hall from the Pulmonary Clinic.

Main Campus

Main Campus

Patient Testaments

“I learned that I can push my body physically and it can feel good!” - Pulmonary Rehabilitation participant

“This program has shown me the right way to exercise. I now exercise 3 times a week. I’ve become stronger and less stressed. The program helped with my recovery and strengthened me physically and emotionally.” - Cardiac Rehabilitation participant

“I’m feeling stronger and more motivated to stay healthy through exercise, diet and social life—some things I’ve never thought of before." - Pulmonary Rehabilitation participant

“The program has shown me the proof that regular exercise is essential in maintaining healthy lungs. I will continue using all I have learned after leaving the program in hopes for a healthier life.” - Pulmonary Rehabilitation participant