Using Exercise as Medicine: MS Mike Gallant’s hard work pays off

MS Mike Gallant and his wife Jeanette Gallant. SUBMITTED

Using Exercise as Medicine: MS Mike Gallant’s hard work pays off

By Nathan Stone,
Trident Staff

A faulty valve in Master Sailor (MS) Mike Gallant’s heart required him to undergo open-heart surgery in November of 2022. During the operation doctors discovered they would also need to repair two clogged arteries. Luckily for MS Gallant, the complex surgery was a success, but he knew it would take hard work to recover and recondition his body after the invasive procedure. 

When he was discharged from the hospital, MS Gallant was encouraged to take things slowly, and to let his wife Jeanette help take care of him. He was having none of it. 

“I get home the first day, I take my own shower and my wife’s like, ‘You’re not supposed to do that.’” said MS Gallant. 

MS Gallant’s unwillingness to take his recovery lying down also led him to be proactive about his rehabilitation. He was initially sent for physiotherapy treatment, and was quickly referred to the PSP Reconditioning Team at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax. When he entered the Reconditioning Program, MS Gallant knew he had a long way to go. It wasn’t just his heart that needed the work, he needed to recondition his whole body to truly recover. 

MS Gallant was matched with PSP trainer Shaun Vail, who would help him build back his physical strength. He started working out twice a week doing resistance exercises, and was initially capable of doing a single push-up and lifting 10 pound dumbbells. With dedication, he was able to swiftly build back his body. Even his trainer was surprised at the rate of his recovery. 

“Mike’s reconditioning surprised me in the sense of how fast he progressed and how well he managed the increase in work,” Vail said. He added that MS Gallant’s positive attitude and commitment to the program was a major factor in ensuring their work together would be successful. 

“Working with Mike was like a breath of fresh air. It was obvious that he really wanted to be there and was so appreciative of the help.”

To help his heart regain strength MS Gallant was prescribed short walks around his kitchen. 

“When I started my walking routine, I would walk around my living room for about 15 minutes,” he said.

“I’d be exhausted, but I would rest, then the next day I’d be back at it again. I’d just keep going and not ever giving up, because that’s just not the way to go.” 

Within a month of coming home, MS Gallant’s short journeys around the house had become daily 5-km walks.  

MS Gallant says that the support of Jeanette and his family played a major factor in his recovery. They were helping him every step of the way.

It’s been over a year since MS Gallant started his recovery, and he says things couldn’t have gone better. He’s built back both his cardio conditioning and his physical strength. From the single push up he was doing at the outset, he now does 100 per day. He’s also lost 20 pounds from his pre-surgery weight. 

“I surpassed where I was before the operation.” 

MS Gallant’s heart is currently strong, and he shows it by cycling back and forth to work and running on his off days. Now he’s focused on being in the best shape he can be as he prepares to wrap up his Canadian Armed Forces career in April. He says he’s prepared for a healthy and happy retirement. 

“I think I’m much healthier at 65 than I was when I was 40.”

The PSP Reconditioning program is a fitness program designed to meet the demands of serving CAF members that are dealing with injury and illness. For more information, speak to your doctor or contact PSP Reconditioning Manager Kerianne Willigar at 902-402-4890 or