The best exercises after appendectomy

The best exercises after appendectomy
December 6, 2013 1:28 AM

An appendectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing the appendix and while the surgery is not really complicated, the recovery time may extend over several weeks. The reason you may need to go through this procedure is because you’ve been diagnosed with appendicitis, which is an inflammation of the appendix. Doctors believe that appendicitis begins when the opening from the appendix into the cecum gets blocked, either because of stool that enters the appendix from the cecum or because of a mucus build-up.


At other times, the appendix may be blocked due to the lymphatic tissue it's made of and as a result, your body attacks the bacteria and causes the appendix to get inflamed. When this happens, you need to emergency medical care since the appendix can rupture and become life threatening. However, if you’ve just had an appendectomy and would like to learn more about what you can to speed up your recovery, below this article will take a closer look at the best exercises after appendectomy.

Short Walks after Appendectomy

Most of the times it's recommended that you start performing basic exercises after ten to fourteen days of inactivity. Based on information from the Mayo Clinic, your post appendectomy exercise regimen needs to begin with short walks. When walking though you need to be really careful with the way you do it, more specifically with your posture and form. It's very important that you try as much as you can to keep extra weight off your abdominal muscles. If you feel fatigued then you should stop walking and never try to push yourself to walk for long periods of time.

Passive Abdominal Exercise after Appendectomy

Several weeks after you’ve started your recovery with short walks, you can consider performing basic abdominal exercises, as these will help strengthen your abdominal muscles. To perform them, you need to sit down on the edge of your bed, while your feet hang off the bed's edge. With your core tightened and your back straight, you need to try and slowly lift your legs up until they become parallel with the floor. You need to try and hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds before you lower your legs back to their initial position. This exercise is recommended to be performed until you feel fatigued.

Bed Exercises after Appendectomy

Another kind of exercise that you can perform on your bed includes basic pumps which will increase blood circulation and thus greatly lower the formation of blood clots in your lower body parts. What makes these exercises so great is the fact that you don't even need to get up from your bed to perform them. Before you consider any of these exercises though, it's best to speak with your surgeon and have his opinion on them. He may have certain exercises that you absolutely must not try within a certain period of time after surgery.

Swimming after Appendectomy

Swimming is considered a low impact exercise and when performed, it puts a great amount of stress on your joints. After you’ve recovered for a few weeks, it's recommended you start by considering a freestyle swim technique (as this will put a lower amount of strain on your abdominal muscles) and go for short laps. Remember that it's not about entering in competition with other swimmers at the pool, but about taking small steps that will aid your recovery. If you feel any pain or tension in your lower abdominal area, you should stop swimming at once. In time, as your strength will increase you can also vary the strokes you'll perform and increase the amount of time you spend in the pool.

Cycling after Appendectomy

After four to six weeks of your surgery, you can consider cycling, but it's recommended that you go for a stationary bike as this will offer you full control over what is around you and what you do. This means that you don't need to perform sudden stops or evasive maneuvers. To start, you may want to go for three static rides of twenty minutes at RPE 6 - 8 (this means light), easy cadence. Every week after you’ve started cycling you may add between five to ten minutes based on how much your body can take. After the sixth week window though, you can go for a ride outside, but don't push it.

When cycling, you need to change one variable at a time and it's best if you can start with the exercise length. In what regards the intensity, you may only increase it slowly from eight to twelve weeks after your surgery and until then, it's better to stick with moderate and easy effort.

Running after Appendectomy

If you want you can also introduce running in your exercise routine between week six and twelve post-op, but it needs to be at RPE 6 - 8, provided you're going to exercise on a soft and flat surface. While cycling, swimming, stair climbing and walking are all one hundred percent comfortable and pain free, running is something else. It puts much more forces through your body than the previous activities and this can be too much for some people.

If you usually run three times per week for forty five minutes every time, then it's best if you could start with a fifteen to twenty minutes run performed as a one minute walk and a one minute jog, but take it slow and again, don't push yourself.

Summary of Post-Appendectomy Exercising

An appendectomy is a type of surgery that can require long recovery times and you need to be ready to help your body recover after being deprived of physical activity for so long. It will take a certain amount of volition and discipline, but at the end of the day, you're doing this for your own wellbeing. Also, don't hesitate to speak to your surgeon and see what he has to say about the exercises you plan on performing for speeding up your recovery. He may even allow you to perform some or even all of them in a day. While exercises after appendix surgery are mandatory, you need to take it easy in order to avoid worsening your wounds which may cause unpleasant complications.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: December 6, 2013 1:28 AM
Next scheduled update: December 6, 2015 1:28 AM
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