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Keeping physically healthy

We want to make sure you are in the best possible physical health when you arrive for your treatment or procedure. 

There is lot of research that shows keeping active not only improves your health, reduces your risk of infection, and helps your body for tissue healing, but it will also help you make a better recovery too.

Even little things that you can do can make a big difference. See the information on our ‘being prepared for surgery’ page.

Women doing yoga

Getting active before surgery

If you can, getting active before surgery will really help you, because your heart and lungs will need to work harder after an operation to help your body to heal. Regular exercise helps make your heart and lungs stronger.

When waiting for your treatment, try to increase your activity levels. Any activity that improves your strength and balance will be useful for your recovery. You can check with your GP what type of exercise is most appropriate for you.

Anyone can get more active, and there are exercises for everyone – including people who can’t stand up. Check the NHS Better Health page to find out how you can exercise safely before your surgery.

Having a healthy diet

Having a healthy and balanced diet is important, and being in as good health as possible will help you recover faster.

While you’re waiting for treatment, try to eat a healthy balanced diet filled with a variety of foods from all the food groups. By doing this, you’ll get all the nutrients that support healing and fight off infection.

It is important to make sure you are a healthy weight before surgery.

Being overweight increases the risk of complications during surgery, so it is important to be a healthy weight. For more people, losing a little weight can reduce the risk of complications.

The best things to eat before surgery include:

Healthy proteins, such as fish, chicken, eggs, beans, soy, tofu, nuts, lean red meat
Grains, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa
Fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions a day
Dairy, low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt, or fortified plant-milk alternatives
Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds

Here are some useful resources:

The Eatwell

British Heart Foundation –
Eat Better

BDA Food
Fact Sheet:
Healthy Eating

Nutrition Foundation

Stopping smoking

It is very important for your overall health to stop smoking.  Additionally, if you are a smoker and are waiting for an operation or procedure, stopping smoking will reduce the chance of complications during surgery and help you to recover quicker.

Call the London Stop Smoking Helpline free on

between 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday, including bank holidays. You can also speak to your GP or local pharmacist for help to stop smoking.

Drinking less alcohol

Alcohol can slow down and stop the healing process, so if you are drinking alcohol it is important not to drink more than the recommended limits.

Drinking less alcohol is a great way to improve your health, boost your energy, save money and lose weight. If you reduce the amount you are drinking every week, this will help you to be in better shape for your proceedure.

Visit the Drink Less site for advice and support on cutting back your alcohol intake. You can also download the Drink Less app for support

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