Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Exercise Program

The long-standing University of New Hampshire’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Program has expanded, now offering a Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Exercise Program as well. The UNH Department of Kinesiology now has a personalized exercise program for individuals diagnosed with peripheral artery disease who wish to perform their normal daily living activities, like walking, with less pain. This program also focuses on reducing an individual’s risk for further progression of their diagnosed vascular disease through exercise and lifestyle changes.

The UNH Peripheral Artery Disease Exercise Program is designed for any individual with a clinical diagnosis of PAD, typically determined by measuring an individual’s ankle-brachial index (ABI) or with the recognition of symptoms.  The most common symptom of PAD is intermittent claudication, or activity-induced pain, aching or cramps in the calves, thighs or buttocks, which typically occurs during walking and resolves after a few minutes of rest or 5-10 minutes. Risk factors for PAD are the same as those for coronary artery disease, and they include: age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking and/or sedentary lifestyles. Therefore, working to decrease your risk factors for PAD also works to lower your risk of heart disease as well!

Each participant begins the program with an initial assessment including the following tests: resting blood pressure measurement, resting ECG, resting and post-exercise ABI measurement, PAD-specific stress test, lipid profile, body composition, and muscular strength, flexibility and balance tests. Once testing is complete, an individualized exercise prescription is created according to the testing results and individual goals of the participant. The participant then begins exercise sessions three times per week. These sessions will run concurrently with the cardiac rehabilitation and prevention programs, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:15-7:30 am; however, each participant will follow his/her own exercise program. The program provides individualized exercise regimens designed to improve overall fitness to increase an individual’s time to onset of claudication while walking, allowing them to feel stronger and walk longer. After 24 sessions of exercise training, individuals will be re-assessed, their programs will be updated, and they will be encouraged to continue with the exercise sessions.

The program is held at the UNH Field House at 145 Main Street in Durham, NH. Facilities include the UNH indoor and outdoor track, gymnasium, and the Employee Fitness Center, which has a variety of machines and exercise equipment. All activities are individually prescribed by our staff of exercise science faculty and graduate students; exercise sessions are supervised with the help of our fourth-year, undergraduate students. The cost of the Peripheral Artery Disease Exercise Program is $200 for the initial assessment, 24 supervised exercise sessions and the re-assessment. If participants would like to continue with the program beyond the 24 sessions, each additional exercise session is only $5. 

This program presently has room to accept more participants, and you can enroll at any time. Initial assessments can be scheduled once medical clearance is obtained from your physician. For more information or to register for this program please contact Melissa Rodgers at (603) 862-0597 or melissa.rodgers@unh.edu.