This easy program can help you handle surgery better, recover faster, and experience a better outcome. It also could save you a lot of money, as it could help you leave the hospital faster. And we all know that prolonged hospital stays can be very expensive. Fortunately, preconditioning can reduce your hospital stay after surgery by an average of two days.
Before you have surgery, your doctor will likely have you fill out a lot of forms. He or she will tell you what the surgery will entail and what you should expect afterward. But you may not get much information about what to do in the days and weeks leading up to the surgery. And that’s a shame, because even little changes can make a big difference in your recovery.
That’s the idea behind the Michigan Surgical and Health Optimization Program (MSHOP), which helps patients prepare for surgery by adjusting their diet, exercise, and stress levels. It advises patients to cease smoking, eat a healthful diet, and log 12 miles of walking per week. That may sound like a lot of walking, but it comes down to about an hour a day. Participants in MSHOP receive a pedometer to help them keep track of their distance.
These sound like very basic steps. And they are! But even though doctors often make similar recommendations to their patients every day, it can take a major event, such as surgery, to motivate people to make these changes. In fact, when researchers performed a study for the journal Surgery asking 641 patients to follow a similar protocol, 80% of the participants stuck with the program. And they cut their medical costs by 30%.
Simple changes, such as walking, can improve blood flow and make it easier for the body to recover. You want your body to be in the best shape possible before going into surgery. In fact, if it’s possible, putting off the surgery for weeks or months while you condition your body can often make your recovery easier — and even avoid surgery.
So, we recommend that you take steps every day (literally and figuratively) to keep yourself in good shape. Walking, eating right, and keeping stress under control are great starting points.