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June 1, 2023



SickKids VS Fragility

For families whose children have had major heart surgeries, the idea of exercise can be terrifying. Is their heart strong enough? What if their heart fails? This fear is understandable but can be damaging in the long run. That’s why Dr. Barbara Cifra launched a first-of-its-kind exercise counselling program for children with congenital heart disease. Hear how the program empowers patients to shed their fears, know their limits, and live life to the fullest. 

Dr. Barbara Cifra, Exercise Medicine Program founder, with Alex, one of the first participants.

Alex, a SickKids congenital heart disease patient, does testing as part of the Exercise Medicine Program at the hospital.
With the help of the Exercise Medicine Program, Alex was able to try CrossFit, an interval program involving cardio and weights.

Alex, now 13, is active and confident in his physical abilities.


Aaron was born in 1995 with a serious heart disease that required several surgeries, starting days after birth.
Despite his condition, Aaron grew up playing several sports and excelled in hockey.
Today, Aaron is still fit and active.



Related Extras



  • Dr. Barbara Cifra, Program Director 
  • Robin Deliva, Physiotherapist  
  • Kelly West, Kinesiologist  
  • Danielle Lawrence, Kinesiologist  


About the Host: Hannah Bank

As a SickKids Foundation writer, Hannah works closely with world-renowned SickKids scientists, physicians, and researchers, turning dense medical jargon into engaging content about the latest research and treatments for kids. She’s inspired by the hope and perseverance of young patients and their families, a fantastic team of colleagues, and her three young girls at home.

Hannah Bank