Bypass surgery is serious business; it may take several months or more to recover from the operation. A triple bypass is not significantly different from a single or a quintuple bypass. The more bypasses you require, however, the longer the surgery, which can affect the time it takes you to recover. Exercise after bypass surgery sometimes starts while you are still in the hospital. Walking is the exercise of choice, at least in the initial stages of your recovery.
Immediately After Surgery
Although you will be in intensive care for a day or two after surgery, you might be encouraged to get on your feet the day after bypass surgery. During your stint in the hospital, which might last a week, you likely will take short walks in your room and the hospital corridors. When you are released, your doctor will tell you if you can start a regular walking program. An outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program often is recommended. Such programs enable you to walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike several times per week under the supervision of rehab specialists. Patients in these programs are encouraged to exercise and often make rapid progress since therapists can challenge them without compromising patient safety.
Initial Walking Program
If it is OK for you to begin walking regularly, try to walk every day and gradually increase your distance. The USC Cardiothoracic Surgery patient guide advises you to initially walk around the block so you are always close to home. Ask someone to accompany you on your first few treks. If the weather is too hot or cold, a shopping mall is a good place to walk. Don't exercise too hard, especially at first. Stop and contact your doctor if you feel unwell, have chest pains or become dizzy or short of breath.
MayoClinic.com says it will take you about six to 12 weeks to recover from bypass surgery and be able to resume your regular activities. It takes about six to eight weeks for the incision down your breastbone, also known as the sternum, to heal. After about three months, you might be cleared for exercises ranging from cycling to golf to swimming to weightlifting.
As the Smart Heart Living website emphasizes, triple bypass surgery deals with a symptom -- three clogged arteries -- not the cause of your heart disease. Lifestyle changes are essential, and exercise and healthy eating top the list. Aerobic exercise, which can include walking, jogging, swimming and cycling, are necessary to keep your heart strong and your arteries free from cholesterol. Strength training is important, too. Find activities that you enjoy, so you will be motivated to stick with your exercise routine. Check with your heart doctor before doing anything extreme such as skydiving or scuba diving.