Cardiac patients after an acute event and/or with chronic heart disease deserve special attention to restore their quality of life and to maintain or improve functional capacity. They require counselling to avoid recurrence through a combination of adherence to a medication plan and adoption of a healthy lifestyle. These secondary prevention targets are included in the overall goal of cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Cardiac rehabilitation can be viewed as the clinical application of preventive care by means of a professional multi-disciplinary integrated approach for comprehensive risk reduction and global long-term care of cardiac patients. The CR approach is delivered in tandem with a flexible follow-up strategy and easy access to a specialized team. To promote implementation of cardiac prevention and rehabilitation, the CR Section of the EACPR (European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation) has recently completed a Position Paper, entitled 'Secondary prevention through cardiac rehabilitation: A condition-oriented approach'. Components of multidisciplinary CR for seven clinical presentations have been addressed. Components include patient assessment, physical activity counselling, exercise training, diet/nutritional counselling, weight control management, lipid management, blood pressure monitoring, smoking cessation, and psychosocial management. Cardiac rehabilitation services are by definition multi-factorial and comprehensive, with physical activity counselling and exercise training as central components in all rehabilitation and preventive interventions. Many of the risk factor improvements occurring in CR can be mediated through exercise training programmes. This call-for-action paper presents the key components of a CR programme: physical activity counselling and exercise training. It summarizes current evidence-based best practice for the wide range of patient presentations of interest to the general cardiology community.