Losing weight and improving fitness levels before surgery is a no-brainer, write fitness expert Ron Cain. (File - Metro Creative)

Losing weight and improving fitness levels before surgery is a no-brainer, write fitness expert Ron Cain. (File - Metro Creative)

FITNESS: ‘Prehab’ can help you recover from surgery faster

A prescribed exercise program could be just what the doctor orders

Ron Cain | Contributed

Going into the hospital and having surgery is a scary idea for most people. The recovery can be long and painful with life-changing results. Some people seem to recover much faster than others.

Pre-habilitation is like putting on your snow tires before the storm rather than after. Nobody enjoys the drone of snow tires on bare pavement and it seems that if we put them on it doesn’t even snow. The reward comes when snow does hit the fan, and you sail past the unprepared who languish on the side of the road, bemoaning their lack of preparedness.

I have a client who is a 55-year-old man getting ready for a knee replacement. He is a rarity: he was determined to improve his fitness level months prior to the surgery in order to make his recovery faster.

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For the last few months, he has been losing weight and working on his leg strength. The muscles that hold the knee joint stable and give it mobility are often atrophied prior to surgery due to inactivity. Who wants to walk 10 kilometres on a bum knee?

The scientific literature that looks at the impact of doing a structured exercise program prior to surgery does not suggest miracles. In fact, when looking at knee replacement patients that have completed physio after the operation there is not a great deal of difference in functional movement. The main difference that the literature reports are the reduced length of hospital stay, less pain, and a speedier return to work and general day-to-day activities.

Losing weight and improving fitness levels before surgery is a no-brainer, irrespective of the mixed reviews in the literature.

With exercise, we cope better with stress, have more energy and tolerate the surgery better. Losing weight is another big plus and that has countless benefits to our health, longevity, immune system function, and many lifestyle-related diseases that we can either prevent through exercise or at least minimize the negative impact.

After surgery, most people are eligible for fully funded physio and that is of great value. When a patient reaches a certain level of recovery, however, enough to be functional, free physio skids to a halt. Continuing with an active lifestyle and staying with a modified, prescribed exercise program is very helpful to get beyond just being able to function and striding towards vigour and flourishing health.

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Ron Cain is the owner of Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at sookepersonaltraining@gmail.com or find him on Facebook at Sooke Personal Training.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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