Canadian Centre for Activity and Agine

Dr. Peter Rechnitzer, CCAA co-founder, dies at 91

The Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) is sad to announce the passing of CCAA co-founder, Dr. Peter Rechnitzer on April 15, 2017.

Dr. Rechnitzer received a degree in Medicine from Western University in 1948. After postgraduate training in London, Toronto, University of Edinburgh and Duke University he began a consulting practice in Internal Medicine and Cardiology in London. Early in his career Dr. Rechnitzer earned a reputation as a skilled and sympathetic physician. His compassion and expertise led him to spend a year caring for those suffering from disease in Zaria, Nigeria.

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Dr. Rechnitzer has been described by professionals in his field as a pioneer in cardiac rehabilitation. In the early 1960s, he donated his efforts and expertise to combine research with practical application, an act which ultimately led to the development of the present day Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. His pioneering study involved placing patients who were recovering from coronary heart disease on a physical exercise program as part of their rehabilitation process. This treatment method was contrary to the standard recommendation for optimal recovery at the time, rest and relaxation. The revolutionary new treatment he championed was found to significantly improve cardiac patients’ quality of life, and has since been adopted worldwide.

In the 1980s he played a leading role in developing the idea for a research centre that focused on physical activity in people ages 55 and over. At that time, he enthusiastically joined with scientists, Dr. David Cunningham, Dr. Donald Paterson, and Nancy Ecclestone, to take the idea of research and community exercise programs from a vision to reality. Thanks to the tireless efforts of this dedicated group the Centre for Activity and Ageing (CAA) was created in 1989. In 2000, the CAA became the CCAA. Dr. Rechnitzer became the first director of the CAA in 1989 while co-founder Dr. Cunningham assumed the role of first research director. In 1992 Dr. Rechnitzer retired from his role as CAA director and Dr. Cunningham assumed that position. In 2007, Dr. Rechnitzer received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Western.

Dr. Rechnitzer was an accomplished musician and played the cello with the London Community Orchestra. He also authored or co-authored chapters in several medical books, and has written biographies about London-area medical pioneers. During his retirement Dr. Rechnitzer continued to champion the CCAA’s programs and community exercise classes for older adults. He engaged in a physically active lifestyle throughout his life and was a true example of research in action.

In 1995, the Peter A. Rechnitzer Annual Lecture Series was established. This annual event is dedicated to Dr. Rechnitzer's firmly held view that physiological processes are best described with responses from individual human adaptations in a real life environment.

Read the obituary