Safe Nutrition & Exercise After Surgery


Coming Back: Exercise after surgery

Before starting any exercise program after surgery make sure to consult your doctor! Undergoing surgery is generally a traumatic experience so finding the correct balance between rest, activity and good nutrition is important to recovery. Enjoy the great information in this article!

Exercise After Surgery – Be Safe

How soon activity can be resumed will depend on the type of surgery and medical advice.

Some surgeries such as knee or hip operations require light activity/exercise soon after surgery to quickly re-establish range of motion and strength. More invasive surgeries such as heart by-pass needs complete rest but movement is still important to prevent complications such deep vein thrombosis and pneumonia.

Exercise after Breast Cancer Surgery

Safe Nutrition & Exercise after SurgeryThe Breast Cancer Network Australia suggests a Pilates routine of exercise after breast surgery in order to:

  • Help relieve neck, shoulder and back pain which can be common after breast cancer surgery
  • Promote drainage of lymph fluids to reduce the risk of lymphoedema
  • Restore normal posture and movement after surgery
  • Improve flexibility, strength, confidence and wellbeing

There are a number of exercise routines that can be performed at home without any special equipment. A simple towel can be used to perform gentle exercises such as front raises or sweeps in order to regain mobility of shoulders and chest after a mastectomy.

Exercise after Heart Surgery

Special care needs to be taken after invasive surgery as while mobility is important, it must be reintroduced slowly and with the advice of doctors.  Deep breathing and coughing exercises are usually the first stage followed by gentle exercise such as walking.

Wounds must be given time to heal, intensive exercise could cause swelling, scaring and even infection if sweat and dirt gets into the wound.

The Australian heart foundation says that most heart patients can go back to normal daily activities within 2-4 weeks of heart surgery and can resume sports such as golf, cycling, or swimming etc. after about 6 weeks.

The general advice is to take it slowly at first and build up the exercise over a number of weeks. If exercise causes pain or discomfort, the patient should stop immediately.

Key role of exercise after Liposuction

Liposuction is one of the most popular elective surgeries performed in Australia and worldwide at the moment. says most surgeons encourage clients to walk on the evening of the procedure to avoid blood clots in the legs or lungs.

Research into Liposuction has shown:

  • The body may compensate for Liposuction by storing fat in other areas. This can often be visceral fat (fatty tissue around the organs) which is linked to heart disease and diabetes.
  • Research undertaken by University of São Paulo, Brazil in 2012 studied two groups of women after Liposuction, one group exercised three times a week; the other didn’t exercise at all. After four months, the women who exercised regained little or no weight while the other group had gained weight with a 10% increase in visceral fat.

Post-Surgical Nutrition

Eating the right food will also have a major impact on the speed of recovery after surgery. The body requires additional calories and nutrients in order to rebuild and recover after surgery.

  • Safe Nutrition & Exercise after SurgeryMuscle tissue is usually damaged or moved aside during surgery and the body will immediately try to rebuild the muscle. Protein is the main requirement for building muscle and can be sourced from poultry, meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans and nuts. Protein supplements that can be used in the case of a poor appetite.
  • Vitamins C, which aides in soft tissue (collagen) repair can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin E which plays an important role in antioxidant defense can be found in almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, wheat germ and plant oils.

While the body is trying to repair and recover, extra calories are needed. Loss of appetite due to discomfort, pain and medication can make this difficult. Eating small meals frequently, between meals snacking, plenty of fluids and exercise are the best ways to get the necessary nutrition.

Wrap-Up: Exercise After Surgery

Exercise and good nutrition is the key to a good recovery after surgery.

It is important to follow medical advice about both exercise and nutrition as trying to do too much too soon can cause damage to the body.

Exercise and healthy eating improves circulation, keeps the spirits up and helps to fight depression that can be experienced after surgery.

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Safe Nutrition & Exercise After Surgery