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Open Heart Surgery Rehab Walking Exercises

Updated on January 24, 2018
n34th profile image

A 40 yr old quadruple bypass uses his heart surgery scars as a reminder to help others currently in heart surgery improvement.


Setting The Stage

You just got home from the hospital after having your emergency open heart surgery procedure.

All you can do is stay in your bed, holding your heart surgery pillow.

Every time you move, your ribs rub together making a clicking noise.

You can't get comfortable no matter what you do.

Every time you need to cough or move you hug your pillow firmly against your chest.

As you lay there you wonder to yourself, "how the hell am I going to overcome this?"

For the first two days, you do nothing but sleep and make trips to the bathroom, then ease your way to your living room to watch a little bit of Television.

While there, you realize how that little trip to the living room wiped you out.

As you get your strength back, you start going to cardiac rehab then find out you can't keep going because your insurance won't cover it.

So you feel stuck.

Without hope.

That was me at the beginning of my journey to becoming a heart surgery survivor and practicing daily healthy heart habits.

Not a pleasant picture, is it?

My Constant Reminder


Getting the motivation - Week 1

As I started the first week of my heart surgery recovery, I knew that cardiac rehab was out of the question. Though I was weak and depressed, I took matters into my own hands. I continued taking my daily heart supplements and medication as I created my own cardiac exercise routine. I made sure I paid attention to what my body was telling me. From there I set simple fitness goals for me to reach each day.

The In-house Walk Around

The first thing I did was commit to walking laps inside my house each day.

I picked a corner of a wall as my starting point and began to learn how to walk again.

I traced the walls of my house, using the wall for support in case I fell. When I was in a bedroom, I would walk around my bed and furniture.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

You will feel degraded, ashamed and weak. Coping with heart surgery recovery is hard. Especially when you have no one by your side for moral support.

Honestly, I broke down in tears a few times when I realized extremely hard that was to do. I was 40 years old learning how to walk again, but I stuck with it.

The In-house Walk Around Instructions

  1. Begin by picking a corner of a wall as your starting point.
  2. Make sure to keep one hand on the wall for support.
  3. Take one right foot step, then have your left foot meet next to your right foot.
  4. Take a left step have your right foot meet next to your left foot.
  5. Walk the entirety of your house.
  6. Rest As Needed.

*Right(step( Left(step, step), Right(step,step) etc.


Take it Outside

As I the week continued I was getting noticeably stronger and moved my daily exercise to my backyard.

By this point, I was confident enough that I could walk without needing help.

I have a small yard made up of an inground pool and concrete, which made the perfect track.

If you don't have a backyard, walk up and down your street.

Don't try walking the block right off the bat.

I made that mistake and ended up having a lady call the EMT thinking I died in her front yard. So Don't do that!

To be safe, start off doing one lap the first day up and down your street. Then increase your laps each day.

Going Public

Being cooped up in my house started getting to me. At that time my chest was still healing so driving myself was out of the question. Though my confidence wasn't quite there yet, But I wanted to push myself a little more.

I got a hold of my dad and had him take me to the mall. Not to shop, but to walk.

I'm sure you guys have seen people speed walking in small groups inside the mall from time to time. I used to laugh at them when I was younger, and now I was one of them.

While there I started the same process by setting simple goals. I started with one lap in one section of the mall. I continued this until I was able to walk the mall several times on both floors with no problem, putting my focus on the stairs.

Stairs make the perfect free exercise program. To this day, I only use elevators when stairs are not an option, or I have to go up more than 8 flights of stairs.

My Personal Trainer

By this point, I was able to drive myself. I strapped on my ankle weights, grabbed two resistance bands to use as a dog leash and took my dog to his favorite park.

Once there, I slipped the resistance band into his dog walking harness and did arm curls as we walked.

At first, I had to stop at every park bench to catch my breath for about 10 minutes. As I continued pushing myself until I was able to walk the whole park (2 miles) without needing a break.

When I got to that point, I introduced Walking Lunges into my routine. While Walking the park I picked landmarks, like light posts and park benches.

I would start doing the walking lunges routine at a light post, and do them until I reached a park bench, Take a break and the walk normally for a bit, then do the same routine. As I continued doing this, it got easier and eventually took up jogging daily and finding hiking trails to with plenty of inclines to conquer.

This is Dexter, my personal trainer
This is Dexter, my personal trainer | Source

How to Walking Lunge Exercise

Walking Lunge Instructions

  1. Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips.
  3. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up.
  4. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.

Weekly Exercise Goal Checklist

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Walk Your house for 7 days
Walk Backyard for 7 days
Walk The Mall For 7 days
Walk a Park for 7 Days at a part
Walk / Jog for 7 Days at a park
Walk/ Jog for 7 days on hiking trails
Take Medicine Daily
Take Medicine Daily
Take Medicine Daily
Take Medicine Daily
Take Medicine Daily
Take Medicine Daily
Add Ankle Weights
Add Ankle Weights
Continue Using Ankle Weights
Increase ankle weights
Increase Ankle Wieghts
Use Stairs Only
Ad Resistance Bands / dumb bells
Increase Resistant Band / dumb bell weights
Increase dumb bell weights
Do arm curls for each step.
Do Arm Curls with each step
Add Walking Lunges
This is the routine I used while getting my health back.

About The Author

As I write this health article about simple open heart surgery rehab exercises. I want you to keep in mind that I am no one special, I'm not a fitness nut, a doctor, or one of those crazy people decked out in speedo gear doing squats while I walk my dog in the park.

A little over a year ago, I had a pretty rude awakening when it comes to my health. At 38 I had open heart surgery due to heart disease. 4 of my six main arteries were either stuffed full of plaque or just flat out shot. According to my doctor, I should be dead! people my age normally don't survive that extreme form of heart failure.

For Some Reason I did...

This blog post will talk about the path I took for my open heart surgery rehab and walking exercises I use to get my health back.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a 40 heart attack survivor. From using the knowledge my cardiologist gave me. Which was walk and keep walking.

At First, it was the worse advice I could have heard. I could barely walk down the hall without getting exhausted.

My chest was in the process of healing and couldn't do much aside from laying in bed and holding a heart-shaped heart surgery pillow against my chest every time I had to cough or get up to use the bathroom.

I learned one thing while in heart surgery recovery.

Heart surgery rehabilitation isn't just about making sure exercise and eat healthy food. Heart surgery recovery is a lifelong process and mental attitude.

Do you choose to be the victim or the hero?

Which one are you?

It is my hope that others with heart disease will read this article. You aren't alone.

© 2018 Kevin Troy


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    • n34th profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Troy 

      12 months ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks Caroyln,

      Helping other people is in my nature, before any of this happened. I spent my free time volunteering by teaching inner city kids after school, helping the homeless get off the streets, and mentoring families with autistic children.

      So when I had the heart attack and went through heart surgery. In all honesty, one of my first thoughts. Was "how the hell am I going to help people now". So I focused on getting my health back and while doing that, I started doing some research on how to truly help the people I care about most. Since I don't plan on ever getting married nor have any kids. I decided that 2018 will be the year that buy some land in southern california, to teach the homeless how to build off grid homes, teach them computer skills, and about farming. Then eventually turn it into a therapeutic horse ranch for children with autism.

      As for my heart disease goes, it just gives me more a reason and stronger passion to help people. Though finding people to help is a lot harder than i realized.

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      12 months ago from South Dakota, USA

      It's wonderful to read a hub by a "real person" using everyday activities to improve. My first husband died of his heart attack at age 49. He would probably would have agreed with you in that he just "checked out" rather than having to deal with recovery. I totally understand where you are coming from. You, on the other hand, are still here, and making progress. And by writing about it, you are inspiring others. Good for you!


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