Innovative fitness program encourages kids with heart disease or transplants to train safely at home
Zacharie Biollo, 16, was born with a ventricle missing in his heart and had three life-saving surgeries by the time he was three years old. As he grew up, his parents encouraged him to get involved in sports such as soccer and karate, but he found he ran out of breath faster than some other kids.
Then he got to participate in a new program to help young heart patients get fit and stay active, developed by the pediatric cardiology group and a team of computing scientists at the University of Alberta.
The children work out at home using a video game-based, high-intensity interval training program on an adapted stationary bicycle called the MedBIKE™, while their vital signs are monitored remotely by a doctor.
Zacharie noticed an improvement after the eight-week cycling program. “My legs got stronger and more used to it,” he said. “My fitness level did increase quite a bit.