How to Exercise After Colon Surgery

A couple walking for exercise outside.
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After colon surgery, it is common to feel fatigued. You might be tempted to stay in bed all day, but light, gentle exercise will help you recover. Exercise helps increase circulation to facilitate healing and helps reduce muscle spasms typical after colon surgery. Walking, deep breathing and circulation exercises will help facilitate your recovery without straining your tender abdominal muscles or posing harm to your wound. Consult your physician before engaging in any exercise after your surgery.


Step 1

Perform deep breathing exercises immediately after your surgery and for as long as your physician recommends. This helps prevent mucus from building up in your lungs, which is common after surgery. Keeping your chest clear helps prevent infections such as pneumonia. Take a slow deep breath through your nose. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this five times each hour.

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Step 2

Improve the blood flow in your legs with circulation exercises. You can do these while sitting or lying down. Pull your foot up toward you and then point your foot away from you. Perform 20 repetitions. While sitting in a chair, straighten your leg out in front of you and hold for five seconds before relaxing and repeating with the other leg. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg. Perform circulation exercises every few hours each day.

Step 3

Take short walks. Start with 10 minutes and slowly increase as your strength improves. It's important to keep the blood flowing well after colon surgery.


Perform light exercise several times daily and gradually increase in the weeks following surgery.

Most patients can resume normal physical activity six weeks after surgery.


Avoid heavy lifting until at least six weeks after surgery.

Avoid pushing yourself.

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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.