Getting Stronger and Healthier for Surgery–Resources

Studio exercise equipment shown in Studio A

Exercise and prehabilitation

Staying active or getting more active before surgery can improve your results and speed your recovery process.  This can include aerobic exercise and weight lifting/resistance training.  This can also be done starting at home and does not require a gym membership, though some patients benefit from a physical therapy referral.  We recognize that starting or increasing an exercise routine can feel daunting before surgery, especially if you have been ill or in pain. Your Pre-operative Medicine Clinic will be a safe, non-judgement space to discuss your current use activity and individualized ways to get strong for surgery.  Additional information: 

What is “Prehabilitation”? 

“Health in Aging” Physical Activities Basic Facts 


Your body needs nutrients and healthy calories (especially protein) to heal from illness and surgery. Ensuring healthy nutrition is important before your surgery happens.  Depending on your overall health, some perioperative teams might recommend or prescribe specific protein drinks/supplements (and these might be covered by insurance). Some surgeries (especially abdominal surgeries) may also require very specific diet changes in the 2-3 weeks before. Please follow any specific instructions from your surgeon. Additional resources: 

“Strong for Surgery” Nutrition Before Surgery 


The Bloodless Surgery and Medicine team works with patients to identify and treat causes of anemia before major surgery

Tobacco cessation

Deciding to or needing to schedule a surgery is often an important moment that can help you pursue quitting smoking life-long. We ideally recommend quitting smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery, though we recognize that your appointment today is likely less than 4 weeks until surgery. Any smoking, quitting is worth it before surgery, though speak to your surgeon about any specific goals set for how long you will be off cigarettes before your surgery. Quitting smoking can help you decrease the chance of complications from your surgery and improve healing. Multiple tobacco quitting aids exist, including nicotine patches and gum. The Oregon Quit Line or Washington Quit Line can also be reached at 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) or online Oregon or  Washington.

Cannabis and alcohol

While legal in Oregon and Washington for recreational use, marijuana/cannabis products can potentially increase your risk of post-operative complications.  This includes smoked/vaped marijuana as well as edible (topical use is likely safe).  We recommend avoiding or minimizing cannabis product and alcohol use as much as possible before surgery to help you be as healthy as possible.  Your Pre-operative Medicine Clinic will be a safe, non-judgement space to discuss your current use habits and any questions you may have about cannabis/alcohol use before surgery.  We welcome your questions.

Psychological preparedness

In additional to physically preparing for surgery, many patients find it helpful to mentally and emotionally prepare for surgery and their recovery.  This includes acknowleding that surgery may create feelings of anxiety—as well as arranging/asking for help from family and friends.  

How to Mentally Prepare for Surgery and Recover Faster   

CaringBridge is a non-profit, social-media type organization specifically designed to share health journeys.  Patients may find this valuable for sharing updates, receiving messages of support, sharing ways for family/friends to help you, and organizing help/to-do lists for volunteers. 

Healthy aging and surgery–resources for older patients

Age is just a number, but older adults are at more risk of certain problems after surgery.  Proactive planning before and after surgery can help older patients have fewer problems after surgery and a faster recovery time. 

Advanced Care Planning Before Surgery--An advance directive is a form that allows you to officially choose a person to make medical decisions for you if you were ever to sick to speak for yourself (Surrogate Decision Maker). It also lets you say what kind of health care you would want if you were ever too sick to speak for yourself. Anyone over the age of 18 may make an advance directive and it is a good idea to do this before surgery. Please visit the website below to do your own advance directive. Instructions are in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and Arabic. Once it is finished, please keep a copy in a safe place at home and bring a copy when you come for surgery so we can have it in your chart at OHSU.  

OHSU resources for Oregon residents (including multiple language translations) 

Oregon Health Authority resources (including more language translations) 

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest /Washington State Medical Association resources (includes background information and forms in multiple languages) 

Idaho resources 

Non-Oregon residents: the above links have useful information for anyone, and you can also complete the Oregon advance directive. You can also check for your own state's advance directive. 

Brain health

American Society of Anesthesiologists Perioperative Brain Health Initiative  

General information for patients 

“Keeping Your Brain Healthy When You Have Surgery” handout 

Seniors and Anesthesia handout