As spring turns into summer, Chris Barritt, 64, often hops on his bicycle for a scenic ride. You’d never guess that seven years ago, he had open-heart surgery at Adventist Healthcare Washington Adventist Hospital to remove a life-threatening tumor.

“I wouldn’t be here today, and certainly wouldn’t be tackling long bike rides, without the heart team at Washington Adventist Hospital,” Chris said. “My surgeon and nurses were truly concerned about my care and my health.”

Since his surgery, the Mount Airy, Maryland, resident has completed four sprint triathlons, a 56-mile bicycle ride and a cross-country motorcycle trip.

“What we hope is that going through heart surgery will encourage patients to focus on their health and a healthy lifestyle,” said Paul Massimiano, MD, Chris’ heart surgeon. “Chris is a great example of someone who took advantage
of the experience and turned it into a positive motivator.”

Chris offers tips on how to stay active and motivated.

What is your advice to someone who has had heart surgery?

  • Consult your doctor first to help set realistic fitness goals
  • Join a gym or health club
  • Exercise with a friend

How often do you exercise?

  • At least two days of cardio exercise each week, like cycling outdoors, indoor spin class or swimming
  • Two days of strength training per week
  • Walking our dogs twice daily

What keeps you motivated?

  • Being able to play, hike and travel with my four grandchildren
  • Feeling great mentally and physically
  • Boosting my overall endurance
  • Staying physically fit

For others looking to get in shape after heart surgery, Chris stresses patience. “When I first started cycling, I would be exhausted after an eight-mile, flat ride. Now I ride 18-plus miles with hills a couple of times a week,” Chris said. “It’s never too late to improve your physical health, no matter how fit you are.”

Do you exercise enough to stay heart healthy? Find out with our fast & free heart risk assessment.