Recovering after a colon cancer surgery, or any surgery, for that matter, is a lengthy process. You can’t expect to get back to normal right after the procedure. Instead, it’s necessary to give your body enough time to heal before returning to your daily activities. With that said, how do you resume exercise after bowel surgery? On another note, should you even stop engaging in it? Well, let’s attempt to answer all queries related to this topic.
The importance of exercise after bowel surgery
Physical activity, in general, is highly beneficial for our well-being. For instance, it reduces inflammation, boosts our immune system, improves our metabolism, and even promotes a healthy gut microbiome. Considering the positive effects it has on us, it’s only natural that you’d be advised to return to it as soon as possible. Or rather, as soon as your gut allows you to do so.
The whole post-surgery recovery complicates working out. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to engage in some physical activity. Of course, nobody expects you to perform high-intensity workouts right after the procedure. At first, you’d be required to perform mild exercises, only to build up the intensity over the following weeks.
What activity should you start with?
We’ve explained that it’s essential to start slow and build your way towards performing strenuous exercises. Now, you might be wondering what activity you should start with? Well, the answer to that question is undoubtedly walking. In fact, after the surgery, it is none other than doctors that encourage their patients to get back on their feet. The reason for this is simple: physical activity promotes faster wound healing and, therefore, cuts back on recovery time. Start with a couple of minutes of light pace walking two or three times a day. Make sure your pulse remains steady. If you notice that you are getting overly sweaty or tired, bring it down a notch by pausing or lowering your pace.
You could find it hard to get moving after going through abdominal surgery. And that is fine. If it’s your brain that’s preventing you from getting those steps in, you should certainly consult a therapist in regards to how to get over the anxiety. Consumer Opinion, for instance, is one of the places on the Internet where you can look up adequate assistance.
How to gradually increase the intensity?
You’ve begun walking? Congratulations! You are a couple of weeks away from returning to normalcy! However, now that you’ve gone back to your feet, it’s essential to progress as far as your exercise regime is concerned. The first four weeks of your post-op recovery are the most important, and you’ll be increasing the intensity of your walks one week after the other.
During your first week, you should stick to taking anywhere between 2 to 4 ten-minute light-paced walks a day. Week 2 is when you should increase their duration. Instead of the initial 10 minutes, they should now last 15. Once you enter week 3, the duration of your walks should, once again, increase, but so should the intensity. Instead of the previous 15 minutes, you’ll now be required to take 2 to 3 daily moderate-intensity walks, each of which should last between 20 minutes and half an hour. Finally, you should take either 1 or 2 brisk 30-40 minutes walks during your fourth week.
When can you expect to go back to normal?
In general, the earliest you should expect to return to normal exercise after bowel surgery is six weeks after the procedure. And by normal, we mean the regime you’ve followed beforehand. At least, that’s when most doctors will give you an all-clear to resume doing it. However, that still doesn’t mean you should go at it at your full capacity. Once again, it’s essential to start slow.
For example, it might not be the wisest to start running straight away. Instead of doing that, you’d be better off building your fitness on the Elliptical or the stationary bike. Also, as far as resistance training is concerned, it would be best to begin with exercises that don’t directly target your abdominal muscles.
How to return to training the core muscles?
When your body is fully healed, you’ll be ready to start training your core muscles. The focus of your attention should be on transverse abdominal muscles. Popular yet safe exercises that target these are plank and side plank, along with pelvic lifts. While performing these post-op, however, make sure that you perform them with your belly button drawn in.
Considering your abdominal area has recently experienced significant trauma, you’ll need to be especially careful. If any of the exercises performed feel off, put off doing them for the time being. You must listen to your body, as ultimately, it knows what’s best for it.
Engaging in physical activity after bowel surgery: Final words
Exercising doesn’t stop with you undergoing a surgical procedure if we are sincere. In fact, right after the surgery, patients are encouraged to perform a form of exercise – the breathing kind. Physicians recommend that patients perform deep breathing exercises right after the procedure for the sole reason of preventing mucus buildup in their lungs. The lack of mucus in the lungs keeps the risk of developing post-operative pneumonia low. To perform these exercises, you’ll need to breathe through the nose. You must hold your breath for a couple of seconds, only to exhale slowly through your mouth afterward. Do a set of 5 of these each hour.
Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized just how important physical activity of any kind is to your overall recovery. Hesitating to return to exercise after bowel surgery is perfectly normal. However, the sooner you find the courage to continue following your regime, the better. Of course, as the road to recovery is different for everyone, it’s best to consult your physician as far as your progress is concerned. They should be able to give you more insight into which activities you are encouraged to resume and which ones you are still better off staying clear from.
Ready to schedule your Colonoscopy in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati? Tri-State Gastroenterology Associates is a physician owned and independent practice founded in 1982. Our team of Top Doctors, nurses and medical assistants live in this community and care for this community. We serve patients living in the Tri-State Area and are in network with most insurance plans.
It is our mission “To provide compassionate, high quality, cost-effective care to patients with gastrointestinal related problems.”