Pre-habilitation: Exercising now pays off before surgery

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have found that fitness counts when surgery is scheduled. Increasing evidence shows that being fit before surgery may reduce the length of your hospital stay, as well as your risk of post-operative complications.

People who can walk a few blocks or climb several flights of stairs with no problem have fewer complications after surgery than those who aren’t able to do these things.

Recommended exercises are: regular walking or cycling and strength training with resistance bands or free weights. One study found that several weeks of walking and performing breathing exercises improved fitness in a group of volunteers awaiting colorectal surgery.

Other pre-habilitation steps include:

* Stop smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for surgical complications, cardiovascular problems and pneumonia.
* Control blood sugar. If you have diabetes, getting blood sugar under control can reduce the risk of complications.
* Get enough sleep. Sleep apnea increases the risk of post-surgery breathing and blood oxygen problems.
* Improve your diet. Being underweight, especially if you have had rapid weight loss, is a risk factor, as is being significantly overweight.
* Manage stress. Stress management skills can help you cope with anxiety about your surgery and recovery. Pacing your activities and accepting help from family and friends can have a positive impact on your recovery time.