Do you have a surgery scheduled in the near future? If so, what are you doing to prepare? Don’t take it easy—you’ve got “prehab” to do. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that facilitating a wellness program consisting of physical, nutritional, and psychological coaching helped reduce a patient’s hospital stay by two days and cut medical costs by 30 percent.
A better understanding of the physical strain of surgery reinforces the need for training before surgery occurs. Here are four reasons why preparing your body for surgery is an important part of recovery.
You burn a lot of calories
New research shows that good nutrition is an important of the pre- and post-surgery process because your body needs extra energy to heal. “If you or a family member are going in for surgery, discuss with your doctor how nutrition can help jumpstart the healing process and get you back to your life and daily activities,” said Christina Sherry, PhD., a registered dietitian and scientist with Abbott.
Your immune system is weakened
One of the hazards of surgery is a higher incidence of infection. One way to boost your immunity system before surgery is to eat foods high in arginine, amino acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Doctors suggest getting at least four to 12 grams of these nutrients by eating plenty of fish, poultry, dairy, and healthy cuts of red meat.
You experience muscle loss
Based on the Michigan Surgical and Health Optimization Program (MSHOP), many patients are advised to walk at least one hour per day with an average of 12 miles per week. Doctors believe walking aids blood flow and speeds healing, which counters muscle loss. The goal is to work toward a quick recovery, since research shows even just three days of best rest can result in 10 percent of total leg muscle loss.
Your muscles get a real workout
During surgery, patients burn more glycogen (stored carbs in muscles) than running or biking over two hours, so it’s important to prepare your body for that stress. “Surgery is basically controlled injury,” Stewart Wang, MD, PhD., says. “You’re whacking patients and hoping that in the end they do better overall because you’ve interrupted the disease process.” With the focus shifting to recovery, patients are better prepared for surgery and enjoying shorter hospital stays.
It’s time to change your routine for surgery prep. By focusing on nutrition, exercise, and reducing stress, you increase your chances of a smooth surgery and a quick recovery.
This article was originally published in the Orange County Register. It has been republished with permission.