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Research has shown that exercise pre-operatively can aid recovery and reduce post-operative complications, as well as hold you in good stead for further treatment if needed. At The Bristol Royal Infirmary we have introduced a programme of Prehabilitation which we offer to our upper GI surgical patients.

Prehabilitation means a programme to improve patients' exercise tolerance (how much physical work your body can cope with) by steadily building up excercise over a period of weeks. This is done by making an exercise plan (usually with your specialist nurse) which increases the frequency, effort and duration of your chosen exercise each week.

A high proportion of our upper GI Patients have become deconditioned due to fatigue, poor appetite and poor nutrition because of their illness. We understand that undergoing physical activity can be challenging for these and many other reasons, so this programme is designed to support you in improving your fitness.

 There are many resources which we can provide or refer you to which will help you achieve the goals set. In the Bristol area there is a programme calledEnergisewhich is specially designed for patients' undergoing treatment for cancer. If you live outside of Bristol your local specialist nurse should have programmes available closer to you. We also have lots of written information which we can provide.

When you are referred for Prehabilitation, you will first have an appointment to set goals for a series of weeks, this usually happens on the same occasion as your appointment with the consultant. You will then be booked in for a series of telephone appointments to provide ongoing support, and advice to meet those goals set.  Exercise can range from a regular walk, a chosen sport or even using your stairs at home. As long as the activity means you feel hot, sweaty and a bit out of breath afterwards it will be of benefit.

Patients have been extremely positive about the prehab programme and have welcomed the opportunity to take charge of optimising their physical ability pre-op:

'this programme has helped me so much to prepare for my surgery'

'I feel in control and so much stronger'

'the weekly support offered by Gemma keeps me focussed'