Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Cheryl A. Getz, EdD, Member; Susan Guzman, PhD, Member


Cardiovascular disease, exercise compliance, physical education, structured lifestyle change program, support system


Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States, with five hundred thousand people diagnosed annually. Even though regular exercise has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, few hospitals offer programs that focus on the requisite lifestyle changes for participants to maintain long-term exercise programs. In an effort to determine what factors contribute to long-term exercise compliance, this study surveyed 279 participants of the Scripps Ornish/Healing Hearts program, a comprehensive lifestyle change program, to identify the factors that helped explain variation in exercise compliance among program completers. Results of the hierarchical multiple regression analysis suggests that demographic factors, lifestyle habits, and safety issues were all important compliance factors for the 178 survey respondents. Specifically, participants who completed the program most recently, had a postgraduate education, a history of exercise, and exercised with a partner were more likely to comply following the completion of the formal program than those not exhibiting these characteristics. On the other hand, exercise compliance dropped following program completion for those who needed to exercise with a group. Taken together, these findings clearly demonstrate the importance of a support system for successful exercise compliance, and Scripps is urged to expand their services to include some sort of post-program support system. In addition, recommendations for future research include expanding this design to include other populations and settings as well as investigating exercise compliance after the implementation of a post-program support structure. Hopefully the results of this study will lead to lower morbidity and better quality of life for all individuals, since exercise compliance is not just an issue for cardiac patients, but for all members of society.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access