Poor uptake and adherence are problematic for hospital-based pulmonary and heart failure rehabilitation programs, often because of access difficulties. The aims of this mixed-methods study were to determine the feasibility of a supervised exercise training program in a community gymnasium in people with chronic respiratory and chronic cardiac disease, to explore the experiences of participants and physiotherapists and to determine if a community venue improved access and adherence to rehabilitation.
Adults with chronic respiratory and/or chronic cardiac disease referred to a hospital-based pulmonary and heart failure rehabilitation program were screened to determine their suitability to exercise in a community venue. Eligible patients were offered the opportunity to attend supervised exercise training for 8 weeks in a community gymnasium. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants and physiotherapists at the completion of the program.
Thirty-one people with chronic respiratory and chronic cardiac disease (34% males, mean [standard deviation] age 72  years) commenced the community-based exercise training program. Twenty-two (71%) completed the program. All participants who completed the program, and the physiotherapists delivering the program, were highly satisfied, with reports of the community venue being well-equipped, convenient, and easily accessible. Using a community gymnasium promoted a sense of normality and instilled confidence in some to continue exercising at a similar venue post rehabilitation. However, factors such as cost and lack of motivation continue to be barriers.