Returning To Fitness After Surgery

If you’ve always been fit, you’ll be a more likely candidate for a swift recovery after a surgery or serious condition. But there are pitfalls you have to avoid and a process to follow when returning to fitness after surgery. To muddy the waters even more, one study used a questionnaire to discover surgeon’s and GP’s recommendations on how much time to take off work that required after a 25-year old had unilateral inguinal hernia repair. The recommendations varied from one week to 12 weeks. General Practitioner’s recommended a period between two and thirteen weeks. That wide response was just for one type of surgery and one age bracket. You can see that it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific time frame for all surgery, all fitness levels and all ages.

Take it slowly when you start back to your fitness routine.

You may think you need to go to the gym to start working out immediately, but the truth is, getting up out of bed and walking is the first step to getting back to your fit self. Getting out of bed and starting a walking routine helps you heal faster, so do light stretches during the first week. If stretching causes pain at the surgical site, don’t do it. Let your body have time to heal that area. By the end of the first week, you should be logging in between one and three miles a day. That doesn’t mean all at once, but throughout the day. Each person has to listen to their own body to find the right amount and pace of post operative exercise.

Listen to your body and your doctor’s advice.

Today, most doctors encourage light exercise quickly following surgery. In fact, they may even suggest short walks the same day or the following day. Studies and years of experience show it helps the body heal faster. By the third to the fourth week, if your physician says it’s alright based on your recovery, boost up the intensity of your exercise. Brisker walks, riding a stationary bike and low impact aerobics can be included. Avoid exercises that put excess strain on your body or high impact exercises, such as heavy lifting, sprinting and jumping.

It’s a fine balance between moving to fast and moving too slow.

While no exercise actually slows recovery time, to intense or too much exercise can too. If you exercise hard, raising your heart rate significantly, the altered tissue at the surgical site may experience increased blood volume in the area, which can cause increased swelling and scarring. It can break apart stitches if done too quickly—five days or less after surgery—and sweating can spread germs to the area and increase potential infection.

  • Like in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Surgery in the chest cavity and lower should require a slower return to fitness than head surgery.
  • Listen to your body and follow what it’s telling you. If you get exhausted after a short walk, don’t try to go further, but rest and try walking again a little later. If you feel abnormal pain, stop and check with your health care physician.
  • Don’t expect to pick up where you left off, ease back into fitness.
  • Discuss your situation with your personal trainer so he or she can create a program best for your situation. Make sure you have the okay from your health care professional or professionals, before getting back to the gym to your old fitness regimen.

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