Five steps to get in shape for surgery

February is Heart Month, when we are all encouraged to do one small thing to improve the health of our hearts – from tweaking our diets to taking more exercise. Evidence shows that when patients have taken the time to improve their overall health before having surgery, the results are better for them.

1. It is a good idea to try to lose weight. Not only will this help to reduce pain if you have arthritic hips or knees, but it also greatly reduces the risk of complications such as infection or blood clots. Weight loss is also good for recovery and for your general health in the future – as well as putting less stress on your new joint. Either your care team or your GP can provide advice to help you to lose weight.

2. If you are able, try to increase the amount of physical activity that you do. This does not necessarily mean running for miles but just a simple walk around the garden on a regular basis will help. A useful bit of technology is a pedometer, which will count the number of steps you take and give you goals to achieve. Some versions will even work out your cardiovascular measurement and predicted weight loss.

3. If you are unsure about what kind of exercise to take or at what level, always ask advice. Your physiotherapy team can help, as can your GP or practice nurse. Importantly, choose something which you are going to enjoy and which you can achieve – that way, not only is it good for you but it is fun too.

4. When you come for your initial assessment your hospital care team may give you a booklet with exercises to do – this is the case at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre. It is important that you do these exercises to aid your recovery from surgery, and get you into the right mind set to do the exercises you will be given when you are discharged.

5. If you can, try to get out and about and do things which relax or calm you before you come in for surgery. As well as a healthy body, a healthy mind is vital for a full recovery. If you go for surgery with a positive outlook you will get so much more benefit from the treatment and care provided to you.