Would having stronger core muscles speed my recovery from abdominal surgery?

Ask the doctor

Image: Bigstock

Published: August, 2016

Q. I'm going to have surgery for a large ovarian cyst in two months. I'm generally healthy but a little out of shape. Would I recover faster if I strengthened my abdominal muscles before the operation?

A. Getting in shape and strengthening your abdominal muscles before surgery is always a great idea. Several factors influence how well people do following surgery. Three major factors—older age, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—have been linked to longer recovery periods. Alternatively, fitness enables a speedier recovery. A 2013 report in the journal Anesthesia found that general fitness—measured by walking speed, ability to rise from a sitting position, the ability of the lungs to expel air, and grip strength—was related to improved postsurgical recovery time in 175 people ages 60 or older who underwent abdominal surgery. Regardless of age and other chronic conditions, people who got more exercise and had stronger abdominal muscles spent less time in the hospital compared with their sedentary, less-fit counterparts.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »