Dr. Paul Oh

Dr. Paul Oh is Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program and a Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

A leading expert on the role of exercise in rehabilitation, he has studied exercise interventions in a variety of patient populations. Current research focuses on how exercise affects cardiovascular health and on ways of optimizing exercise interventions. Dr. Oh has received numerous awards for teaching and research and is the author of many peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Oh is an advocate of the power of exercise as medicine. He sees the benefits of it every day through his work at Toronto Rehab’s Cardiac Rumsey Centre. “Simply put, exercise is as powerful a therapy as anything we can offer,” he says. The statistics are strong: Participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs, which emphasize exercise, can lower chances of dying from a future cardiac event by about 50 per cent.

In his research, Dr. Oh focuses on identifying ways to make cardiac rehab even more effective for people who are recovering from various forms of heart disease and/or surgery. He has found that the right volume and intensity of exercise are important to maximize gains in function, minimize risk factors and ultimately change cardiovascular health.

“We know exercise promotes heart health,” he says. “Now we are refining what we do by looking at the effect of exercise on cardiovascular health and risk factors. We are also studying ways of optimizing interventions – different doses, different intensities and different ways of delivering the exercise.”

Core components of Toronto Rehab’s year-long outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program, which is the largest of its kind in North America, include aerobic exercise, resistance training, and education. “People with heart disease can become fitter and function better than they have in years,” says Dr. Oh.

Dr. Oh is also working to extend the successful model of cardiac rehabilitation to other at-risk populations. One major focus has been people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are at a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

“We found that in people with diabetes, structured exercise improved fitness levels, blood sugar control and cholesterol values, while body weight and body fat went down,” he says. “Now we’re looking at optimal modes of delivery, and exploring other physiologic effects of exercise.”

Dr. Oh talks about how young professionals can lead healthier lives  

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