Preoperative Intensive Exercise Demonstrates Positive Impact on Post-Surgery Recovery, Study Shows

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Engaging in a rigorous exercise prior to undergoing a surgical procedure may lead to enhanced patient outcomes and reduced complications. According to recent findings from University of Otago researchers, individuals who undergo intense exercise before surgery experience a notable improvement in their recovery process. The integration of high-intensity interval training has proven particularly effective, demonstrating up to a remarkable 56% reduction in post-operative complications and hospital stays.

HIIT before surgery expedites postoperative recovery

Lead study investigator Dr Kari Clifford said that they have established that high intensity interval training (HIT) is effective and safe for patients. Clifford explains that a HIIT program can significantly enhance fitness of the patient in 4-6 weeks which reduces postoperative complications and hospital stays.

The study examined 12 studies with a total of 832 patients who underwent high-intensity interval training (HIIT) before their major surgeries. The training consisted of aerobic interval exercises at 80% of the individual’s maximum heart rate, followed by active recovery. The surgeries included urologic, liver, colorectal, and mixed major abdominal surgeries, lasting over two hours or with anticipated blood loss exceeding 500 milliliters. The participants’ average age was 66 to 67 years-old.

Significant change observed in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), indicating improved oxygen delivery to muscles and organs during prolonged exercise.

HIIT reduces postoperative hospital stay by three days

Clifford said that the findings indicate that High-Intensity Interval Training leads to a notable rise of 2.39 ml/min/kg in cardiorespiratory fitness. This improvement is not only statistically significant when compared to conventional surgical care but also holds crucial clinical implications. Research shows that such an increase is linked to a reduced risk of adverse postoperative complications.

In this study, it was found that post-operative complications typically occur in 30% of patients, and up to 50% in frail patients. However, the researchers observed a consistent reduction in cardiac complications, pneumonia, and post-operative bowel problems through high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The study’s pooled results indicated that HIIT can lower the risk of complications by 56 percent, leading to an average reduction of three hospital days.

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