Getting fit for surgery

Your health and wellbeing while waiting


Improving your physical and mental wellbeing can help you cope with what’s ahead. For example, surgery or a medical procedure. This is called pre-prehabilitation or prehab for short.

Prehab can also help to:

  • improve your health before surgery so that you go in stronger
  • prevent complications during surgery or afterwards
  • improve your recovery and the speed of it

Examples of prehabilitation

There are some examples of prehabilitation.

Be as active as you can

You should aim to get in the best shape possible before surgery. For example, by doing more activity. This can strengthen the lungs which will:

  • help you cope better with anaesthesia
  • lower risks linked to your treatment
  • speed up your recovery

Reduce your intake of tobacco, alcohol and drugs

If you stop or reduce your use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs, it’ll improve your health. This’ll help prepare you for surgery and support your recovery.

Keep your weight as healthy as possible

Losing weight in a steady and healthy way before surgery can reduce the risk of an operation. It’ll also help your recovery after the operation and support you to get fit faster.

Fitter Better Sooner

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) has advice on what you can do to get the best outcome from your surgery.

Moving Medicine

Moving Medicine provide information, research and advice to help people be more active. They have information on why being active is important before and after an operation.

Get the Moving Medicine factsheet

Joint replacement surgery

If you’re waiting for joint replacement surgery, support is available to help you get ready for it.

Versus Arthritis have advice on exercises for joint replacement surgery. They also have step-by-step workouts that you can follow to improve your overall fitness.

Further information on the Versus Arthritis Let’s Move for Surgery Toolkit