There is increasing evidence that exercise both before and after surgery improves recovery and means patients spend less time in hospital. How fit you are before you have an operation is a good indicator of how likely you are to have complications afterwards. We often think getting older is the main risk factor in operations, but actually fitness is more important.

Research has shown that people having surgery recover much better with fewer complications if they were active before the operation. One study has shown that people with low levels of fitness stayed an average of 11 days longer in hospital than fit people in the same age group.

If you find you are going to have an operation talk to your doctor about exercise to help you improve your fitness before the operation. You don’t have to start going to the gym, walking or cycling for 30 minutes a day will make a difference.

It is very important that you talk to your surgeon or GP about what exercise you should do after surgery, but activity will help you recover more quickly.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh have a helpful leaflet for patients on exercise and surgery.