Let’s not beat around the bush here. If you’ve got high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood sugar, there’s a decent chance you could end up on an operating table. Surgeries are risky, expensive, and can leave you with a long and trying recovery period.
A new study, however, is showing that there might be a way to cut the risk, cost, and recovery time of surgery. It’s called “prehab” and it involves taking steps to physically and mentally prepare for the shock to your body and wallet that common surgeries can deliver.
Prehab involves exercising, eating a healthy diet, and practicing stress management for at least one week leading up to surgery. Published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the study looked at the effect of prehab on over 1,500 Medicare patients in Michigan.
At an average age of 70, 523 patients practiced prehab for at least a week leading up to surgery on their chest, heart, or abdomen. A control group of 1,046 that had similar surgeries did not partake in prehab.
The study found that the patients undergoing prehab were better prepared to withstand the stress of surgery, had a lower rate of postoperative complication, and a speedier return to normal functioning.
They were also discharged from the hospital faster following surgery, and two-thirds were able to return home the same day, compared to 57-percent of the control group. The prehab group also paid significantly less in insurance payments, with average savings of more than $600 compared to the non-prehab group.
This is an interesting study for two reasons: the first is that it shows it’s wise to prepare for surgery, much like anything else. For example, you’re not just going to wake up one day and run a five-kilometer race; you’re going to train for it.
The second is that it shows how quickly a healthier lifestyle can influence your body. In only about a week, diet, exercise, and stress management can produce substantial gains in your body’s ability to sustain and recover from trauma.
If you have a surgery on the horizon, or want to reduce the risk of health problems that can result in surgery, schedule walks and strength training into your week. Find ways to fit more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods into your diet, and look into ways to reduce stress.