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Returning to activity after cancer surgery might seem daunting. It’s common to feel uncertain about how to become more active after an operation.

Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon Dr Claire Donohoe explains the importance of getting moving after surgery:

People often receive advice to ‘rest up’ after surgery, but the evidence shows that you should work towards becoming activity again as soon as possible. Exercise is safe and beneficial for most people after surgery.

As soon as possible after the operation, the physiotherapy team and nursing staff in the hospital will help you get moving.

Before returning to activity, speak with your surgeon and oncologist, they will advise you if they are happy for you to exercise and if there is anything you should be cautious of after the operation.

Dr Claire Donohoe provides advice for people recovering from abdominal surgery:

Aim to start moving gently and gradually increase how long and how intensely you exercise over time.

Take as much rest as you need. The amount and type of exercise which each person is able to do in the early weeks is extremely variable so try not to compare yourself to others.

The best guidelines are what you can do without becoming too tired or too short of breath. You should not feel tired from exercise you did yesterday.

See our sections on Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors and Tips for Becoming More Active for more information.

Author: irishcsdev