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Question
Posted by: Debs | 2004/10/27

Exercise Routine Hip Replacement Surgery

My mother is 66 years old. Very unfit and quite stubborn. She had hip replacement surgery 4 years ago. She has taken this opportunity to give up exercise totally. Please can you advise me on a good routine and give me some ideas. I know a man who plays golf, sails and hikes after the same sugery. Just how much can one do and what are the dangers. She is a heavy smoker and has high cholesterol. She has been told she has to exercise but keeps using her hip as an excuse. I would like to present her with a programme as she is financially strapped too.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Debs

I hope I can help, with the proviso that I'm not an orthopaedic specialist and this is quite a specialist query, so whatever your mom decides, I do suggest that she consult with a specialist if there are any problems, unnatural aches and pains etc.

These days exercise is not as huge an inconvenience as it used to be. They used to use very heavy materials that made it just about impossible to walk, let alone do exercise, but because of the advances, they now use much lighter materials and it is possible to still exercise like the man you know.

Now, the situation for each person will be quite unique, because of the different types of procedures and because each person is unique and has a different history of exercise and will respond very differently, so in addition to the constraints of the hip replacement, you must look at it holistically too.

Now, with surgery 4 years ago, it's certain that she would be capable of exercising. After surgery, as you will recall, there is a period of 'incapacitance' where normal activities like driving, sleeping and walking are difficult, but this should have past by now, so she should certainly have the ability to start some exercise. What I don't know is how functionally capable she is - in otherwords, in some people, the rehab process is very sucessful and they will show more improvement and be capable of more than others, largely because of differences in those first few weeks and months and because of the type of replacement. So, if your mom was quite good about her rehab, then something like walking would not be too hard to do now.

In this case, I would suggest that a programme of walking is probably the best place to start. Swimming is also recommended; it is not weight bearing and so very good, and you can get some pretty good whole body sessions by doing it. The problem is then access to a pool, which she may or may not have, but if it's something that she is serious about, and particularly the walking, then it might be an idea to consider a gym, because come winter time, it does get difficult to get out particularly later on for a woman. Other acceptable activities include dancing, golfing (with spikeless shoes and a cart), and bicycling (on level surfaces). Also all these low impact aerobic classes and yoga classes will also be very good for her to do. Avoid activities that put stress on the joint such as tennis or badminton, horseback riding (though I doubt whether that's a concern), or jogging. She also should not do any heavy lifting or weight lifting.
So now, putting it all together is the next part.

For a good walking programme, check out the following site:

http://www.health24.com/fitness/Programmes/16-1347-1349-208.asp

This is a good site because it allows exercise from home or from a gym and is built up over many weeks, so it starts at a good level for someone who has not exercised in a while. It may prove difficult for your mom though, with her added constraints, and so if she has to reduce the duration each day to do the sessions, don't worry it's fine.

Last thing - don't forget that for anyone exercise, a health check is a good idea before exercise, so in addition to the orthopaedic problem, I suggest getting medical clearance from a doctor before exercise.

With that, good luck, I hope she takes the carrot and gets into exercise.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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