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Exercise After Bypass Surgery: Start Slowly

Man and woman walking in winter.

Increase your exercise slowly

You may feel weak and tire easily at first. You may also be a bit stiff. Start slowly and build up your time and speed little by little as the days progress.

  • After the first week, exercise 4 times a day for 7 to 8 minutes each time. Each week, add 1 to 2 minutes to each session.

  • As you add minutes to each session, cut down on the number of times you exercise in a day. Just be sure you exercise for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. Slowly build up to 25 to 30 minutes once a day.

  • Exercise 5 days a week. You can take 2 days off each week–but not 2 days in a row.

  • Exercise either before or at least 1 hour after a meal.

  • Learn to take your pulse during exercise. If it becomes too fast, stop and rest. If your pulse rate stays high even at rest, call for help.

  • Rest after you exercise. And drink plenty of water, unless your healthcare provider has told you to limit how much fluid you drink. 

  • Stop and rest if you have dizziness, feel faint, or have shortness of breath or chest pain. Rest for 20 minutes. If these symptoms don't go away after resting, seek medical attention right away.

  • Your healthcare team may recommend cardiac rehabilitation to help you recover from your heart surgery. You will be monitored while you exercise. You will also learn how best to continue your recovery and improve your heart health.

  • You may be able to do home-based cardiac rehab if you can't go to rehab at a health facility. Ask your provider if this is an option for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Mandy Snyder APRN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
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