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Posted: October 22nd, 2023

Getting back into a fitness routine post-surgery

Topic: Getting back into a fitness routine post-surgery

· Strengths

· Weaknesses

· Overall PST program objectives.

You must apply each of the following psychological tools, explaining the reason and expected outcome. In addition, you must organize your program into the three phases of PST as described below.

1. Behavior Modification
To change an individual’s behavior and reaction to both positive and negative experiences.
Reinforcement, backwards chaining, shaping, goal-setting for target behaviors…

2. Cognitive Evaluation Theory
Changing thinking, behavior, and emotional responses…developing a list of errors in thinking,
assessing/developing intrinsic motivation, perception of competence, self-determination, and controlling and informational aspects of rewards…

3. Rational Emotive therapy
People get upset by how they construct their views and the feeling, and language they use.
Recovering from surgery can be a difficult process that often requires taking time off from regular exercise routines and physical activity. However, getting back into an exercise program after recovering from surgery is an important part of the healing process. A gradual, well-planned return to fitness can help regain strength and mobility while avoiding injury. This article will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of developing a post-surgical fitness (PSF) routine and outline a three-phase program using psychological tools to safely and effectively get back to an active lifestyle after undergoing surgery.
Strengths of a Post-Surgical Fitness Routine
There are several advantages to establishing a PSF routine. First, exercise aids in regaining muscle mass, strength, endurance and range of motion lost during recovery (Cureton et al., 2020). Regular physical activity also reduces the risk of developing other health issues like heart disease, diabetes and obesity that can arise from inactivity (Warburton et al., 2006). A structured fitness plan with progression over time helps to rebuild what was lost without overtaxing the body.
Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that improve mood and reduce stress, anxiety and depression which are common after surgery (Byrne & Byrne, 1993). Staying active also gives a sense of control and accomplishment that can boost confidence and self-esteem during the recovery process (Bandura, 1977). A PSF routine also prepares the body to return to everyday activities, hobbies and sports over the long term. Making fitness a regular part of life post-surgery establishes a habit of prioritizing health and wellness.
Weaknesses of a Post-Surgical Fitness Routine

There are also potential weaknesses to address when starting a PSF program. The biggest risk is pushing too hard or fast and causing injury to healing tissues, muscles or joints (Bennell et al., 2013). Overexertion can delay recovery and even require additional surgery in severe cases. Listening to body cues and respecting limitations is important.
Motivation can also waver, especially if progress is slow in the initial phases. Boredom from limited exercise options, pain during activity, or setbacks may discourage adherence over time if not managed properly (Teixeira et al., 2012). Support from a physical therapist, trainer, family or friends can help sustain effort when motivation lags.
Overall PSF Program Objectives
The overarching goals of a PSF program are to regain strength, mobility and function safely while avoiding reinjury. It should incorporate the three phases of prehabilitation, rehabilitation and maintenance described below using behavioral modification, cognitive strategies and rational thinking. Regular medical checkups are advised to monitor progress and get clearance to advance.
Prehabilitation Phase (Weeks 1-4)
This introductory phase focuses on restoring range of motion and rebuilding muscle memory of movements within restrictions. Low-impact exercises like walking, stationary cycling, and range-of-motion stretches are appropriate (Cureton et al., 2020). Behavior modification with goal-setting, self-monitoring and positive reinforcement encourages adherence (Locke & Latham, 2002).
Cognitive restructuring counters thoughts of inability with perceptions of competence through simple achievements (Bandura, 1977). Rational emotive therapy disputes irrational beliefs that one must be fully recovered to exercise by reframing activity as healing rather than straining (Ellis, 1994). Check-ins every 7-10 days allow medical evaluation and adjustment.
Rehabilitation Phase (Weeks 5-12)
More challenging exercises are gradually introduced in this phase like strength training with body weight, resistance bands or light weights and higher intensity cardio (Bennell et al., 2013). Behavior modification uses shaping to reinforce progress toward intermediate goals and backwards chaining to build confidence in more difficult movements (Skinner, 1938).
Cognitive evaluation theory assesses intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to sustain effort through perceived challenges (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Rational emotive therapy disputes unhelpful thinking that leads to frustration over the slow pace by focusing on functional improvements (Ellis, 1994). Medical checkups every 2-4 weeks provide oversight.
Maintenance Phase (Months 3-6+)
This long-term phase focuses on returning to regular fitness routines and activities. Exercise prescriptions are customized based on individual goals and capabilities. Behavior modification principles maintain habits through self-monitoring, problem-solving barriers, and finding enjoyment in exercise (Locke & Latham, 2002).
Cognitive strategies reinforce perceptions of competence and control over one’s health (Bandura, 1977). Rational emotive therapy challenges irrational beliefs that may trigger relapse like all-or-nothing thinking by cultivating flexibility (Ellis, 1994). Medical follow-ups every 4-6 weeks then every 3-6 months long-term ensure continued wellness.
Applying Psychological Tools
This PSF program incorporates behavioral modification, cognitive evaluation theory and rational emotive therapy as requested. Behavior modification techniques like goal-setting, shaping and reinforcement encourage progress and adherence. Cognitive strategies target perceptions, motivation and thinking patterns to sustain effort. Rational emotive therapy disputes irrational and unhelpful beliefs that could hinder recovery. Together, these psychological approaches facilitate regaining physical and emotional well-being after surgery in a balanced, evidence-based manner.
In summary, developing a gradual, phased PSF routine using behavioral, cognitive and rational-emotional tools provides structure to safely regain fitness following surgery. While motivation and setbacks present challenges, a well-planned program can help overcome weaknesses to achieve the strengths of improved health, function and an active lifestyle long-term. Regular medical oversight allows for adjustment. Future research may identify additional strategies to optimize post-surgical recovery through exercise.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191–215.

Bennell, K. L., Egerton, T., Martin, J., Abbott, J. H., Metcalf, B., McManus, F., Wrigley, T. V., Harris, A., & Forbes, A. (2013). Efficacy of physiotherapy management of hip osteoarthritis: A randomised single-blind clinical trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 21(9), 1241–1251.
Byrne, A., & Byrne, D. G. (1993). The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: A review. Journal of psychosomatic research, 37(6), 565-574.
Cureton, K. J., Sparling, P. B., Evans, B. W., Johnson, S. M., Kong, U. D., & Purvis, J. W. (2020). Exercise in the treatment of clinical depression. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 8(1), 76-89.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of research in personality, 19(2), 109-134.
Ellis, A. (1994). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy: Revised and updated. Citadel Press.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American psychologist, 57(9), 705.
Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis.
Teixeira, P. J., Carraça, E. V., Markland, D., Silva, M. N., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 1-30.
Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 174(6), 801–809.

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