Staying Active After Surgery
One of the biggest fears people have about joint replacement surgery is that it might keep them from participating in their favorite sports and physical activities. Proper exercise is essential for regaining strength, flexibility, and mobility after joint replacement surgery. In addition, regular physical activity can help prevent postoperative weight gain and a whole host of other health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and colon cancer. You can still stay active after surgery, although you may have to limit or avoid certain activities.
Exercising After Joint Replacement Surgery
Most postoperative exercise programs start with gentle range-of-motion activities and muscle-strengthening exercises. Your doctor or physical therapist will help you decide when you're ready to move on to other kinds of physical activities. After a few weeks, you may be able to resume lower-impact activities, such as swimming, walking, or riding a bicycle.
Higher-impact activities, such as jogging, playing tennis, or aerobic dancing may be advised against for quite some time-perhaps indefinitely. The concern is that such activities could damage the new joint or loosen its parts. However, every individual's situation is different. The best policy is always to talk to your doctor before trying such activities and follow his or her recommendations.
Weight Gain and Joint Replacement Surgery
Fortunately, even lower-impact activities can help you increase muscle strength and improve cardiovascular fitness without injuring the new joint. They also can help prevent unwanted weight gain, which could result if you failed to stay active. Many people worry about how postoperative weight gain might affect their appearance and self-esteem. There are much more pressing reasons for concern about being overweight, however. Extra weight can put added strain on the joints. In addition, people who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for a wide range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gallstones, gout, and cancer of the colon, breast, endometrium, and prostate.
Losing Weight After Joint Replacement Surgery
To maintain a healthy weight and lose excess pounds, you need to combine regular exercise with a balanced diet. In general, you'll want to start out exercising slowly and build up gradually to give your body time to adjust safely to the new demands. For most people, the initial goal will be 30 to 45 minutes of moderately intense activity, three to five days per week. Ultimately, you probably should aim to get at least this much exercise on all or most days.
Examples of moderately intense activities that might eventually be appropriate for many people who have had joint replacement surgery include, walking two miles or bicycling five miles in 30 minutes. Always check with your doctor first to find out which activities are right for you. Be certain to also ask how often you should exercise, for how long, and at what intensity.
Establishing some type of post-operative exercise regiment can continually help your muscle strength and flexibility. Sticking to this type of program can improve your quality of life and help you eventually return to your normal activity level.