Exercise After Surgery

So, you recently had surgery. Maybe your surgery removed cancer, or your gall bladder, or perhaps you had a joint replacement. You may be thinking “now what? How do I get back to doing the activities I enjoy?” The advice I give to my clients, friends and family is to start with following your doctor’s recommendations and do as much physical therapy as your insurance will allow. If your doctor does not prescribe physical therapy up front, ask for it. Physical therapy is a great place to start your recovery and regain your strength. However, many times physical therapy alone is not enough for a full recovery. Therefore, when you are released from physical therapy, continue doing the exercises you learned from your physical therapist. Then, start learning exercises you can do to continue your progress and get back to being physically active. This is where I come in to the picture.

When a new client comes to me for exercise guidance following surgery, one of the first things I do is obtain recommendations regarding exercise from the client’s doctor and physical therapist. Another is to sit down with the client to discuss his or her health history, lifestyle, habits and goals. The purpose of this is to get the big picture of where the client has been, where he or she currently is and where he or she ultimately wants to be with his or her physical fitness and well-being. From there, I design an exercise program that takes into account the client’s needs, goals and current physical ability. I generally start with gentle exercises and then appropriately progress the exercises over time to assist in achieving the client’s goals. In addition to exercise, there are two other major components to recovery and getting back to normal activities. One is mental well-being and the second is good sound nutrition.

Just over one year ago, a good friend of mine had bariatric surgery. She has since lost 101 pounds and would like to lose another 15 to 20 pounds. I asked her how she was so successful with her recovery and weight loss. She attributes her success to 40% exercise, 40% nutrition and 20% mental well-being. She said that actively working on her mental well-being has helped her to stay on track with her physical fitness and good nutrition. She has been able to change how she views food. She no longer sees food as fuel for her emotions but rather fuel for her body. With her new healthy relationship with food, she is able to make more nutritious food choices. She now consciously practices mindful eating instead of eating mindlessly.

Good sound nutrition is vital to a speedy recovery following surgery. Eating processed foods tends to create or exacerbate inflammation in the body, causing or prolonging pain. Feeding your body unprocessed whole foods will help you to heal much quicker and reduce your pain. By adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your regular diet, you can markedly improve your immune system and your body’s ability to heal. In addition, eating fresh fruits and vegetables decreases inflammation, supports heart health, and offers many other health benefits.