Returning to Exercise Post Hysterectomy

fitness hormone health midlife athlete perimenopause Feb 07, 2023

Not-So-Fun-Fact: Up to 33% of women will have a hysterectomy by age 60! 

 …and most of them get very little guidance on how to return to fitness post-hysterectomy.

 MORE Not-So-Fun-Facts:  By age 60 more than one-third of women will have had a hysterectomy, and about 11.7% of women ages 40–44 will have had the procedure. 

 In other words, this is something that needs to be talked about!!  

Having a hysterectomy has a huge impact on a woman’s health, training, well-being, and goals. 

As a personal trainer and health coach, my goal is to help women return to exercise safely after any procedure or injury. 

The most common reasons women have a hysterectomy can include issues or concerns related to fibroids, cancer, endometriosis, prolapse, or incontinence, and after other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus. 

There are many types of hysterectomies including: 

Total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix and possibly the ovaries and fallopian tubes)

Partial hysterectomy (leaves the cervix and takes the uterus)

Radical hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, as well as the upper part of the vagina and lymph nodes along with possibly some tissue from the pelvic cavity. This is usually only performed when the patient has pelvic cancer). 

When it comes to returning to exercise, it’s important that you and your trainer are open and honest about how you are feeling so they can adjust your training according to your needs/recovery. 

Focusing on rest and recovery for the first two weeks after the procedure is top priority!  Light walking is often recommended. 

After two weeks,  most women will be able to get back to normal daily life activities. 

From weeks 2–6 you can begin to add a little more rehabilitation movement to your recovery.  Depending on how you feel, you may begin to incorporate gentle stretching, Kegel exercises, breathing exercise, pelvic tilts and walking. 

Most women will be allowed to “return to all activities” around weeks 6–8.  You may want to start at a lower resistance with all abdominal training. 

You  may not feel ready to do full-range movements right away. It’s been awhile, so don’t feel like you have to rush it! 

Staying safe is most important, so remember you haven't done anything other than walking or light stretching for the last 8 weeks, so take time to do a little conditioning and make it a slow, gradual return before going all in again!.

Keep the intensity low or moderate when performing cardio. 

Lifting can also feel significantly more challenging when recovering the strength of your abdominal muscles. 

You may feel well enough to start running again (if you were previously a runner) after 12 weeks. Start slow and gradually increase distance or time, and then speed, over several weeks and months. A good couch to 5k program may be perfect when getting your running groove back. 

Strength training can be done 2-3 days per week, using low rep count to start off. 

Pelvic floor contractions with exercises like squats, lunges, and bridges can be very beneficial. 

The biggest take away is to return back to your normal routine slowly.  Listen to your body and focus on the cues your body is providing you.

For more on tips on staying healthy and active, download my free guide The Active Gal's Guide To Staying Healthy, Fit, and Injury Free in Midlife. 

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