Background: Physical inactivity is a pivotal factor in the development and progression of various chronic diseases. However, most fitness facilities exclude unhealthy individuals. Therefore, an exercise program that admits such patients is imperative.
Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of a fitness facility that admits adult subjects with multiple chronic diseases.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective screening of patient records from the Medical Fitness Facility at Meir Medical Center, Israel. Intake of subjects was done by a multidisciplinary team. For each individual, personalized diet and exercise plans were developed and patients attended the facility twice a week. Each participant was evaluated at enrolment and after 4 months for well-being, metabolic parameters, exercise capacity, and laboratory blood tests.
Results: A total of 838 individuals were enrolled, mean age 57 years. Their medical conditions included dyslipidemia (48.8%), hypertension (37.6%), and diabetes mellitus (24.9%), followed by musculoskeletal problems (arthropathy 19%, lower back pain 16.1%) and ischemic heart disease (13.4%). Less common diagnoses were vascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, and malignancy. Only 40.5% of participants adhered to the regimen with advanced age being the best predictor for adherence. At the follow-up visit, body mass index was lower (31.2 vs. 30.2 kg/m2, P <0.0001), exercise capacity increased (measured as maximal MET; 7.1 vs. 8.1, P < 0.0001), and well-being improved (measured by Short Form Survey [SF-36]; 69.3 vs. 76.0, P <0.0001).
Conclusions: We show that a fitness program for patients with multiple chronic diseases is feasible and effective in improving prognostic parameters, albeit significantly challenged by adherence limitations.