Staying Fit After Surgery

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

Benefits of Staying Fit After Surgery

Staying fit after surgery is vital to total body health.  Fitness can help with:

  • Appetite
  • Pain control
  • Sleep Patterns
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Constipation (common after surgery)
  • Return to prior activity
  • Depression and Anxiety

Staying fit after surgery is challenging. But fitness can help you heal and feel better.Staying Fit After Surgery

Why Is Fitness Important After Surgery?

The quick answer is that it helps you heal and avoid health complications. 

Prolonged Bed rest can bring health complicationsPatient on bed rest
40 years ago, people would remain is bed and rest for weeks after surgery to allow the body to heal.  This led to health complications such as:

  • Loss of strength 
  • Loss of endurance
  • Loss of cardiovascular health
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood Clots
  • Bed sores
  • Loss of Work Hours
  • Digestive problems

All of these symptoms of prolonged bed rest are major health issues that can be avoided.  We now know that bed rest is NOT the best option for most people after surgery.  Resting for a day or 2 may be needed to allow anesthesia to wear off.  But with most surgical procedures, patients are instructed to get out of bed and move around as tolerated. 

Is it Safe to Get Out of Bed After Surgery?

The quick answer is that it is usually safe to get up and move after surgery once the anesthesia has worn off. But, you may need help.  It is common for a nurse or physical therapist to assist patients when getting out of bed after surgery in the hospital or surgery center.

A physical therapist may be needed to assess whether a patient is safe by themselves or whether they need assistance. They may also recommend a device such as a walker or a cane. 

For some patients, simply sitting up is helpful to encourage proper lung and cardiovascular function. 

If the surgery involved the legs, then the weight-bearing status must be considered before getting out of bed or standing/walking.  

There are procedures that limit out of bed activities so it is important to discuss the expectations with your surgeon prior to the procedure. 

How Do You Stay Fit After Surgery?

The quick answer is that it depends on your fitness level prior to surgery.  Staying fit after surgery is different for everyone.  Here are some tips.

  1. Get in shape before surgery - If you are having a planned procedure, do what you can to pre-condition before hand.
  2. Lose Excess weight before Surgery - Patients with higher body weight have to work harder after surgery to get up and move. 
  3. Exercise the whole body - It is common, especially after orthopedic surgery, to focus on the body part that had surgery.  But the rest of the body needs work too.
  4. Eat Healthy Food - Eating foods with protein and high fiber can promote healing and digestive health after surgery.  Fresh fruits and vegetables help to provide needed nutrients as well.
  5. Stay Hydrated - One of the most common complaints after surgery is constipation.  Pain medication and lack of movement make this worse.  Hydration can help manage constipation.
  6. Physical & Occupational Therapy - Physical therapists and occupational therapist specialize in health, fitness, and functional independence after surgery.  They can help with all aspects of your recovery after surgery. 

Book an Appointment with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

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