Improving your fitness for Major Surgery: Incorporating I COUGH UK - a collaboration between Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust and Boston Medical Centre.

We know that when you have major surgery, it puts a big strain on your body. However, there are several ways that you can improve your fitness leading up to your surgery, which will help prepare your body for your operation and its recovery.

  • Improve your fitness before a major operation
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking

Improve your fitness before your surgery

Moderate exercise before your operation will help strengthen your muscles and build up stamina. This will allow you to mobilise earlier and reduce your risk of breathing problems such as chest infections which are common after major surgery. Depending upon your general fitness and the effects of other treatments that you may have had recently, you may currently have a limited ability to exercise. If this is the case try and go for a walk twice a day, increasing the distance you walk as you become fitter. Contact your GP or hospital Consultant if you find this brings on any new heart or chest symptoms. If you require a Cardiopulmonary exercise test [CPET] as part of your pre-operative assessment prior to your surgery, the Consultant Anaesthetist that you see will be able to give you further advice regarding exercise dependent upon your CPET results.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet will help improve your recovery from surgery and in particular wound healing. If you have experienced a change in your appetite and particularly if you’ve lost weight, please discuss this with your surgeon and specialist nurse. You can be referred to a specialist dietician for advice to help improve your nutritional health before your operation.

Stop Smoking

It is very important to stop smoking as soon as possible before any major surgery. This will reduce the risk of any breathing problems during and after your operation. There are several ways to stop smoking

  • CMFT stop smoking Manchester (www.stopsmokingmanchester.co.uk or 0161 205 5998)
  • Make an appointment at your GP practice or health centre. There is usually a Smoking Cessation Advisor who can help give you advice about stopping smoking
  • National Smoking Helpline(www.nhs.uk/smokefree or 0800 022 4 332)


I COUGH UK is a collaboration between our hospital, Central Manchester Foundation University Hospitals [CMFT] and another large hospital in America called Boston Medical Centre [BMC]. The medical team at BMC showed a reduction in patient’s lung complications after surgery with a series of simple interventions. We are now employing these interventions or all our patients having major surgery.

Prior to surgery, we will explain the steps of I COUGH. These steps will be supported by INTERNET based resources. We will also want you to concentrate on improving your fitness, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking as set out above.

I COUGH UK steps