LifeFit Fitness

Text reads LifeFit-Fitness. There is a line drawing of a person holding hand weights

While you wait for your surgery it is important you prepare yourself physically for when your surgery is booked.

Research shows improving your respiratory (lung) fitness and building healthy muscle mass means you are likely to have a shorter hospital stay and an easier recovery.

We encourage you to start building your fitness today using the following exercises.

Strength training

Try to get into a routine of doing these exercises 3–4 times per week. Encourage your partner, carer or significant other to join or buddy with you if possible.

You don’t need fitness equipment for these exercises – you can easily convert items around your home into weights. For example, for a 2 kg weight fill a 2 L milk bottle with water, or half fill the same bottle for a 1 kg weight.

Always warm up with a brisk walk, or similar, for 5 minutes before you start.

For each exercise:

  • Do not hold your breath while doing the exercise.
  • Try to complete 3 sets of 5–8 movements for the 5 exercises listed below (lifting and returning to the starting position is one movement or 'rep').

When you feel like you can do more than 8 reps in a set, or do more than three sets, it is time to progress your exercise. You can do this by increasing the weight you are holding in your hands or increasing the range of your motions.

Arm exercises

These exercises are completed in a sitting position.

  • Exercise 1: Holding weights in both hands reach out in front or reach to the sky. 
  • Exercise 2: Bend your arm at your elbow to bring your hand to your shoulder (elbow bend or bicep curl).

Leg exercises

Use your body weight to start. It is OK to hold something sturdy to help you with balance if needed. Also, you can add weights into your hands for these exercises to progress.

  • Exercise 1: Squat or lower your bottom toward the ground until you feel your thigh muscles working hard, then return to a standing position. You only need to squat to the same position as if you were sitting on a chair. 
  • Exercise 2: Standing on a flat floor, raise yourself up on your toes (working your calf muscle) and return to a normal standing position.

Exercises while laying on your back

  • Step 1: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Step 2: Lift your bottom up off the bed or floor (bridging). 
  • Step 3: Return your bottom to the starting position on the bed or floor.

Healthy eating helps build more muscle

Spreading your protein intake across the day, rather than eating large amounts in one meal, helps promote muscle building.

In addition to eating the recommended five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day, we suggest you ‘ pulse’ protein across the day. This means including protein at each meal, such as yoghurt, milk, eggs, fish or other meats, as good building blocks for new muscle.

Improving fitness and lung health

Walk briskly for 30 minutes, 5 times per week

Depending on your fitness you may need to build up to this amount of walking. Start with 5–10 minute bursts and build up to 30 minutes with rests in between. You might like to use this as your warm up for your strength exercises above. If walking is too hard for you, try to build up to 30 minutes of:

  • arm lifts
  • throwing and catching a ball or socks while sitting
  • leg kicks (without weights) in a sitting position.

Practice deep breathing

Healthy breathing is important to healing after surgery. Start practicing these exercises as soon as you can and use them after your operation – don’t wait for anyone to tell you to start. An ideal time to practice these is after every meal. Each set of exercises consists of five breaths:

  • Step 1: For the first breath you should aim to expand your ribs slightly.
  • Step 2: Each of the next 3 breaths should be slightly larger than the previous breath.
  • Step 3: Breath 5 should be the largest breath you can manage so your ribs expand as much as you can. Briefly hold this breath before releasing and repeating the set.

Tracking your progress

To track your general health and wellbeing you will receive a quick five question survey at the start of the program and at 6weeks.  Please complete the survey as soon as possible.

More information

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