Getting Active Before Surgery: Three Simple Ways to Get Outside
Ah, the modern digital age. While it’s given us instant access to everything we could ever need (and overnight shipping to boot!), it also has its downfalls. One major one? We sit a lot (as in: way too much). With the rise of technology, modern transportation and office day-jobs, it’s no surprise that humans are more sedentary than we’ve ever been. But, while everything from work stress to urban dwellings to the addictive allure of Instagram may make it hard to get up and get moving, getting outside is one of the best things you can do for your overall health—especially before you go in for surgery. Today, then, we’re talking about getting active before surgery and dishing up our top tips for simple ways to soak up some fresh air before you go under the knife.
Just how sedentary are we, and what effects does that have on our health?
According to the World Health Organization, globally one in four adults aren’t moving enough—and, according to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a majority of adults in affluent populations spend 70 percent or more of their waking hours sitting. From that same Mayo Clinic study we learn: “…evidence has emerged identifying habitual sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) as a novel risk factor for cardiometabolic disease and all-cause mortality.” And, according to Men’s Health, we know that a number of studies have shown sedentary behavior can cause everything from increased psychological distress to increased cancer risks to unhealthy spikes in blood sugar.
All of that can sound a bit scary—and it is! But knowledge is power, and even just having an awareness of how sedentary we’ve become can help us make more cognisant choices about what we do with our time. Below, we’ve broken down our top tips for getting outside and getting active before surgery:
1. Treat it like a meeting you can’t miss.
When it comes to getting active before surgery, it’s all about making (and keeping) a promise to yourself. Set a daily reminder in your calendar or create a recurring phone alarm that reminds you to get up and get outside. Treat it like you would a work meeting—pencil (or type) it in, and don’t allow yourself to miss it. Depending on your schedule, you can set multiple reminders for short bursts of fresh air throughout the day, or even just one reminder for a longer period spent outside. The key is to choose a time that works well with your schedule (so that you won’t be able to make up an excuse to miss it), and to treat it like an appointment. Remind yourself that you only have so many days until your procedure—pack as much fresh-air into that time as you can…especially if you’re undergoing a procedure that will have you on crutches or immobilized for a period of time afterward.
2. Don’t think of it as a workout.
For those of us who are exercise-averse, we tend to treat getting outside like a workout. And, the second we think of that morning walk or afternoon hike we promised our friends we’d go on as exercise, our brain automatically starts firing off 20+ excuses about why we can’t make it (our dog isn’t going to watch himself, after all! And we don’t even have proper hiking boots!). If you’re committed to getting active before surgery, it’s time to change up that inner dialogue that tells us anything that involves the outdoors is exercise.
Getting outside doesn’t have to be about working out or calorie burning. Instead, it can be about doing something fun and exploring your community. Head to an outdoors farmers’ market if there’s one in your area and spend some time just walking around and taking in the fresh air while you’re there. Look up hidden-gem hikes, little-known parks or walking paths you’ve never tried in your area and check a different one out each weekend. Most importantly, remind yourself that getting active before surgery isn’t just about the physical benefit—it’s also about the mental and emotional benefits we receive from time spent outside. From the scent of roses keeping you calm to Jasmine elevating your mood to a chemical released from fresh-cut grass making you happier, fresh air (and all of the scents that come along with it) have been proven to provide benefits for our overall mood and well being.
3. Attach fun activities to your time outside.
Whether it’s a Saturday lunch in the park or finger-painting with your kids in the backyard, think of ways you can take everyday indoor activities outside. Making breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning? Why not eat it outside on the patio (or, better yet, at a park) instead of at the table or in front of the television? Playing hot-wheels with your little ones after work? Set that track up outside instead. If you happen to have a yard, you can look for ways to make your property a haven for outdoor activity. Invest in a small fire-pit from a home improvement store and make Sunday night fire-pits a tradition. Plant a small garden that you can tend to. Put up some string lights around a tree and create the perfect after-dark zen area. If you live in an area with unpredictable weather, you can also look for ways to experience outdoor activities under the cover of a roof. Visit a nursery or greenhouse near you and spend time amongst the plants, or head to a flower shop to take in all of the fresh scents!
Overall, getting active before surgery is all about having an awareness of your current activity level, changing the way you think about outdoor activities, and looking for opportunities to get fresh air in unexpected places. With a few simple shifts in your behavior and mindset, you can easily revitalize, refresh, and re-energize your body to ensure it’s in the strongest state possible to go under the knife!