Should I Work out Before Surgery?

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You’ve done your research, coordinated plans for your stay, and finally booked your surgery date! Now all that’s left to do is thoroughly study your pre- and post-op instructions, and make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for the big day. One facet of physical preparation patients often have questions about is whether or not they should exercise before surgery.

Most plastic surgeons agree that working out before surgery is a good thing, and that it can actually provide many benefits during and after your procedure. Below is a list of reasons why you should commit to working out before surgery:

1. Reduces Risk of Blood Clots Post Surgery
A lack of physical activity after plastic surgery can make some patients vulnerable to potentially deadly blood clots. This is why doctors always recommend that patients get up and walk around at regular intervals during their recovery period. In addition to walking after surgery, in the week before your surgery, make a point of walking at least 30 minutes every day. If you have another favorite form of exercise, such as swimming or playing tennis, continue your usual regimen, as this can also be helpful to your body post-surgery. The general rule of thumb is that is if you are a regularly active person, continue with your regimen before surgery. If you are not typically active, get started!

2. Helps your Body Recover Sooner
Keeping your body in shape and accustomed to physical activity can help you bounce back after the operation more quickly. Common sense tells most people to train before running a 10K race to avoid dehydration, injuries and physical exhaustion.
Doctors are applying that same concept to patients preparing for surgery in a growing medical trend across the U.S. Surgery is every bit as stressful on the body as running a race; why not prepare your body the same way?

3. Reduces Post Surgery Fatigue
A steady regimen of aerobic exercise before surgery, like running, dancing, biking or swimming, has been shown to help reduce fatigue post-surgery. This is in part due to the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise. Patients who exercise regularly also report being in better spirits after their procedures.

4. Can Prevent Muscle and Nerve Damage
After surgery, muscles and nerves can sometimes suffer damage by the restoration of blood flow. Studies have shown that pre-injury and pre-surgery exercise clearly reduces this damage, minimizing any future damage to the body’s circulatory system.

5. Can Increase Surrounding Muscle Strength
Targeted muscle strengthening exercises can help make your recovery period easier by facilitating ease of movement. For example, someone undergoing knee surgery might benefit from strengthening the muscles around their knee in the months leading up to surgery. It’s also important to remember other parts of your body that you may need to rely on more post-surgery, like your core and arms. For example, strengthening triceps (the muscles on the back of your arms) can help you better use crutches, stand up from a seated position or get out of bed.

In conclusion, the answer to the question “Should I work out before surgery” is a resounding yes! Choosing to stay active before your surgery date has many post-operative benefits, including reducing the risk of blood clots and nerve damage, reducing fatigue and overall body stress, and aiding in the speed of your recovery. If you are a regularly active person, continue with your regimen before surgery. If you are not typically active, now is the perfect time to get started!