Preoperative Exercise Therapy to benefit Postoperative Outcomes

A person’s status of physical fitness and function is linked to reduced mortality in the general population. Studies have shown that this is also relevant prior to undertake invasive surgery. Post-operation status for the patient involves bed rest, a reduction in muscle mass, reduced conditioning and can increase risk of respiratory complications. Post-surgical complications can further increase mortality and result in longer hospital stays and reduced quality of life. Therefore, implementing exercise therapy prior to surgical intervention may benefit the patient’s recovery period as well as their long term circumstances.

Research has indicated that presurgical aerobic capacity can improve post-surgical outcomes, allowing for a reduction in the amount of time spent in hospital. This will then have a flow-on effect on the loss of muscle mass and loss of function. A prehab exercise programme which includes inspiratory muscle training has shown to reduce post-operative complications for those undergoing abdominal and cardiac surgery. Those undergoing joint operations in the hips and knees will experience less time in the hospital system if they engage in pre-operative exercises. The exercise programmes should be individualised to the patient and focus on building endurance and strength to improve mobility after surgery. Undergoing preventative measures will allow for a reduction in costs to the patient as well as the health department.

If you want to learn how an individualised programme can help you through your surgery either pre or post-operative get in contact with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist today by either calling 9244 5580 or email us at

Taylor Downes (B.Sc. Sport & Exercise, B.Ed. Human Movement)

Exercise Consultant (ESSAM)


Valkenet, K., van de Port, Ingrid GL, Dronkers, J. J., de Vries, W. R., Lindeman, E., & Backx, F. J. (2011). The effects of preoperative exercise therapy on postoperative outcome: A systematic review. London, England: SAGE Publications. doi:10.1177/0269215510380830

Crowe, J., & Henderson, J. (2003). Pre-arthroplasty rehabilitation is effective in reducing hospital stay. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(2), 88-96. doi:10.1177/000841740307000204