Exercises for Recuperation - Article by Justin Balbir and Margarita Gurevich, published in the Great Health Guide

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*Note: the following exercises are a guide only – refer to your doctor or physiotherapist for specific advice on what is appropriate for you or the affected individual, based on their illness and reason for hospital admission.

Naturally, incapacitation for an extended period will lead to a feeling of lethargy and weakening of the muscles. It is important to slowly build up energy, strength and fitness following a hospital stay. Obviously, there is no one generic formula for this, as each person will vary based on their current age, previous fitness level, reason for hospital admission and the specific orders of their doctor or surgeon.

The following are a list of general exercises which can be performed to build general strength and conditioning, in a home environment and requiring no equipment.

As your condition starts to improve you will be able to commence harder exercises with the ultimate goal to returning to your pre-hospital admission routine. Your physiotherapist will be able to guide you on this. The below exercise routine should, however, be enough in the initial stages of your recovery.

Before commencing the exercises make sure you get the green light from your surgeon.

Make sure that you don’t feel any pain during the exercises except for muscle pain. If at any stage you start feeling pain in your spine or joints, stop immediately and consult your physiotherapist.

Carry out 10 repetitions of all below strengthening exercises:


Lying on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your buttocks off the ground as high as you can – emphasize this by squeezing your buttocks muscles – then slowly lower yourself down.

2. Clams:

Lying on your side, have the knees bent with one leg directly on top of the other. Keep your ankles together the whole time. Begin by slowly lifting your top knee off the bottom one – this movement will be generated by your hip muscles. Once you have rotated the knee out as far as you can, slowly lower it back down. Note: Make sure that you don’t roll backwards while doing this.

3. Sit-to-stands:

Sitting on a chair or the edge of a bed, stand all the way up until your legs and back are straight, then slowly lower yourself down. Try not to use your hands to propel yourself up. The slower you sit back down the harder your muscles will work. 

4. Calf raises:

Standing in front of a wall (for support), lift your heels off the ground so that you are on the balls of your feet. Then slowly lower yourself back down. Once this becomes easy you can try doing single leg calf raises, keeping the other knee bent and foot off the floor.

5. Wall push ups:

Have your hands on the wall in line with your shoulders, standing about 1 step away from the wall. Using your arms, slowly bring your chest in towards the wall, then slowly press yourself back away. Make sure that you don’t arch your lower back.

6. Bicep curls:

Using a dumbbell, a light bag or even a can of beans; start with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards. Slowly lift the object by bending your elbows, bringing your palms up towards your shoulders, then slowly back down.

7. Walking:

Aim to build up your exercise tolerance by going for short walks. This may be only short, 30 second bouts or several minutes, depending on your current fitness levels. Slowly build this up until you are back to your baseline, prior to hospital admission.