a timeline showing older men exercising before and after surgery

My Post-Surgery Timeline of Recovery

When it comes to a post-surgery timeline of recovery (with a disclaimer that everyone is different) -- what can those newly diagnosed expect?

I can remember it like it was yesterday. A warm day (for the UK) in very late August. My appointment with the Professor had already been delayed by a week, and I came out of the room feeling like I’d been hit round the head with a shovel. So that’s the first thing -- you’ll most likely feel at your worst even before you get into the treatment phase, but that’s the time to start your recovery program. Why?

Pre-op training

Even with a robot, your surgery is an invasive procedure. You’ll be anesthetized for up to three hours, and that too will hit you hard, so some physical preparation will be a great investment.

You might already be fit, you might not, but we can all do with being fitter, particularly in advance of surgery, so make time for yourself to walk, jog, run, swim, work out, cycle, play tennis, do yoga or Pilates, ideally doing a combination of cardio and strength training.

Waking up after surgery

OK -- you wake up after surgery, and you may feel like you’ve been kicked by a horse, a big one, right in the belly. It’s going to hurt, but now is not the time to feel too sorry for yourself. That pre-op training you did is already helping, but once you are home you may be getting up two or three times a day and walking, even if it’s only round your house or garden. And walking is about all you’ll be able to do, trust me, but it’ll feel good, even if after twenty or thirty minutes you then need a lie down. By day ten you might be able to walk for thirty minutes twice a day, by day 20 I reckon you’ll be able to walk for up to an hour at least once a day, with another shorter session.

When can I start exercising again?

Those runners and joggers among you will be asking when you can pull on those shoes again -- it’s four weeks guys, even if you went into surgery with a three hour marathon recently under your belt! To be able to run again you’ll need to be walking for two hours a day for at least a week beforehand, and you’ll need to start easy, really easy, with a jog/walk routine for at least ten days before you can start to run non-stop.

Don’t even think about getting on a bicycle for at least eight weeks (at least in my experience) -- I’m speaking from personal experience here. The muscles that you use to sit on the saddle are the very ones that have been sliced open, and it’ll be agony if you try too soon.

I reckon that after six weeks a person may be ready to try some gentle, low impact work-outs. I found a Pilates class that worked really well -- and men, don’t be shy about turning up to a class full of ladies. After a few seconds they won’t even notice you, but the exercises your instructor will lead you with will really help get you back into shape. They involve no equipment so you can slot a few of them into a daily exercise routine of your own.

Stay focused on your goals

See if you can find an exercise-based goal to aim for after your surgery. Achieving it will give you a great feeling, and show to you and the world that your operation is behind you. Aim high -- you’ll surprise yourself, I’m sure.

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