Your Physical Activity Program

The physiotherapist has developed a physical activity program of morning exercises and daily walking for you to complete during your first few weeks following surgery.

The program has been designed to help your recovery, build your endurance and prepare you for cardiac rehabilitation.

This physical activity program will be modified and progressed when you start Cardiac Rehabilitation, according to your abilities and personal goals.

Regular physical activity will help to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve endurance, fitness and energy level
  • Improve blood cholesterol
  • Manage weight
  • Manage stress

Expect to:

  • Feel tired for the next few weeks
  • Gradually increase your activity level
  • Need frequent rest periods

Abnormal responses to exercise may include:

Nausea, headaches, dizziness, chest pain or palpitations

If you notice any of these, stop and rest until the symptoms decrease. If these symptoms persist, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Call the nursing coordinator at the 24-hour access number: 613-696-7000, press 0 and ask for the Nursing Coordinator.

Physical Activity Tips


  • Breathe steadily and in a relaxed manner while you exercise.
  • Avoid straining and never hold your breath.


  • Walk at a pace that allows you to maintain light conversation during the activity.


  • Walk on flat ground to start. If hills are unavoidable, walk more slowly when going uphill.


  • It is best to wait up to an hour after a meal before you exercise. This is because extra energy is required for digestion.


  • Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures.
  • If it is very hot and humid, walk during the cooler part of the day such as in the morning and later at night.
  • If it is extremely cold or windy, exercise indoors using stationary equipment or walk in the hallways of your house/apartment or in a mall.
  • If you do choose to exercise outdoors in colder weather, walk during warmer times of the day and cover your face with a scarf to help warm the air before it reaches your lungs.


  • It is important that you keep good posture.
  • Try to keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Avoid slouching forward.


  • Do not cross your legs as this slows down circulation and will increase the risk of developing blood clots in your legs.


Your activity program has two parts: a morning exercise routine and a daily walking program.

The day you return home from the hospital, you should rest. The next day, do your exercises in the morning and then start your walking.



Breathing Exercises

Breathing Exercises

Sit straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, back supported and shoulders down.


  • Take as deep a breath as you can through your nose and then breathe out through your mouth.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Repeat five times.
  • You can try to cough after this exercise to help clear your lungs of mucus.

Breathing Exercises in Standing

Sit straight on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, back supported and shoulders down.


  • Breathe in as you lift your arm up forward as high as it will go.
  • Breathe out while lowering your arm down.
  • Repeat five times.
  • Do the same exercise with the other arm.


Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercises

Lift both shoulders up as high as you can, and let them relax down.


  • Repeat three times.

Shoulder Exercises

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as far back as you can, until you feel a stretch across the front of your chest.


  • Repeat three times.


Neck Stretching Exercises

Neck Stretching Exercises

Keeping your head facing forward and shoulders down:


  • Bring your ear towards your shoulder until you feel a stretch at the side of your neck.
  • Hold three seconds.
  • Repeat to the other side.
  • Repeat three times.


Trunk Rotation

Trunk Rotation

Cross your arms in front of your chest.


  • Gently rotate your trunk to one side and hold for three seconds.
  • Repeat to the other side.
  • Repeat three times.


Ankle Exercises

Ankle Exercises

Sit with your back straight and hands in your lap or at your sides.


  • Straighten one knee, pulling your toes towards you.
  • You will feel pulling in your calf and the muscles in your thigh will tighten.
  • Move your ankle back and forth three times then lower your leg slowly.
  • Repeat five to 10 times with each leg.




Holding a solid surface, place your feet shoulder width apart and keep your back straight.


  • Bend your knees and hips slightly, keeping your heels on the ground.
  • Return to a standing position.
  • Repeat five to 10 times.



  • Take two walks of equal duration each day.
  • The first day, walk minutes in the morning and repeat the same in the afternoon.
  • Increase the duration of your walk by minute(s) per day / every other day for days.
  • At the end of days, you will be walking minutes twice a day, at a comfortable pace.
  • Once you can walk minutes comfortably, start to increase your speed gradually over the next weeks, until you can walk miles or kilometres in minutes.
  • Walk at a pace that is brisk but allows light conversation without becoming too short of breath.
  • Continue this program until you begin cardiac rehabilitation.



Breathing Exercises in Standing


  • After your walks, stretch your calf muscles. They are likely to get tight as you begin to increase your daily activity.
  • Stand straight close to a solid surface on which you can use your hands for balance.
  • Place one leg behind the other, with both your feet pointing forward.
  • Bend the knee that is forward while keeping the back knee straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf.
  • Hold for 30–60 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat 2 to 3 times.



Cardiac rehabilitation is a program of exercise, education, and counseling that will help you to make healthy heart living part of your everyday life. Before you leave the hospital, please make sure you have information from or an appointment with Cardiac Rehabilitation.

More information can be found on the Heart Institute website in the “For Patients & Family” section. For any questions about cardiac rehabilitation, please call 613-696-7068.

Keeping track of your recovery and activity in the Activity Log. It will help both you and your health care team see how much you have improved.