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Can Exercise Help Before Surgery?

January 11, 2018 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Can exercise help before surgery?

Fitness goes a long way; people who are active typically live longer, have better quality of life and do not get sick (i.e., get a cold) or develop chronic health conditions as often as those who are inactive. However, no matter how active you are, you may need surgery at some point in life and then rehab to get back to a normal routine afterwards.

One thing that can help with a speedy recovery from surgery is “prehab”. Prehab means strengthening your body before surgery to help you bounce back faster.

This information is general and may not apply to everyone. Please consult with your surgeon beforehand to see how being active can help you.

Generally speaking, good aerobic fitness (a strong heart and lungs) is helpful to recovery after surgery. Depending on your current fitness level and physical abilities, activities to increase aerobic fitness may include dancing, swimming or going for a brisk walk. Participating in these activities may also improve sleep and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Strengthening exercises can also be helpful for recovery. For example, someone undergoing knee surgery might benefit from strengthening the muscles around their knee in the months leading up to surgery. It’s also important to remember other parts of your body that you may need to rely on more post-surgery, like your core and arms. For example, strengthening triceps (the muscles on the back of your arms) can help you better use crutches, stand up from a seated position or get out of bed.

Being active before surgery is a great way to help speed up your recovery. If you need more help or suggestions for prehab or rehab activity, give the Qualified Exercise Professionals at Healthlink BC a call by dialing 8-1-1 or talk with your surgeon/physician about getting a pre and post-surgery exercise plan specific to you.


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