Exercise after hysterectomy doesn’t have to be hard – Read our super useful tips to get started

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When can you begin to exercise after hysterectomy?

Returning to an active lifestyle after the surgery should happen progressively. Your post-hysterectomy recovery greatly depends on your body’s fitness before the procedure.

exercise after hysterectomy

A person who has been regularly exercising or performing physical activities will recover much sooner than a woman who has never exercised.

Unfortunately, most surgeons give rather vague advice about how women can safely resume exercise after a hysterectomy.

Usually, they will tell you that a 6-week period should pass without picking up heavy objects or physical activities, including running, swimming, aerobics, or yoga.

But this may leave actively fit women, used to regular exercise, with many unanswered questions.

For example:

  • What happens if you lift too much after a hysterectomy?
  • When is it safe to do abdominal core exercises after a hysterectomy?
  • Are there exercise limitations after a hysterectomy with bladder repair?

Let’s start from the beginning. There are exercises you can do right after surgery. These exercises help you recover faster and reduce the chance of complications.

Hysterectomy Recovery exercises

1. Breathing exercises are important as they help to clear the lungs and prevent lung infections. You can do these exercises sitting in bed or on a chair by the bed. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold for 3 to 5 seconds, and release the air slowly through your mouth. When you inhale, make your ribcage expand.

2. Coughing exercises help to clear the lungs of excess mucus. This can be painful if you have a wound in the abdomen. It helps when you use a pillow or a towel to support the wound while coughing.

3. The day after the operation, you may still have a catheter or a drip in your arm. This may make getting out of bed and walking around more difficult. You can still do certain leg exercises while you are lying in bed. Alternately, pulling up and straightening your legs. Move your ankles by bending and stretching or making circular movements. These exercises will improve your blood circulation and prevent you from developing a blood clot after hysterectomy.

4. The day after your hysterectomy, they will also urge you to get out of bed and start walking. The least painful and correct way of getting out of bed is by pulling up your legs one at a time and moving your bottom away from the side of the bed. Slowly roll to your side. Then, use the arm on top to push yourself upright and simultaneously lower your legs off the bed so you get in a sitting position. Relax a few minutes before standing up, as you may feel a bit dizzy.

Walking after hysterectomy

Begin with short walks and build this up daily, walking a little bit further and longer. In the meantime, your wounds will heal, and you can return to normal activities.

Why is walking my favorite exercise after hysterectomy?

Walking helps to reduce many of the side effects we have to deal with after a hysterectomy.

walking exercise
Benefits of walking exercises

1. Walking promotes our blood circulation, regulates our blood pressure, and lowers our risk of coronary heart disease.

2. Walking also reduces joint pain after a hysterectomy. Though it may be painful when you first start walking, you will soon notice the difference. It will decrease stiffness, keep your joints moving, and strengthen the muscles around the joints.

3. Walking will help your weight loss efforts. After your 6-week postoperative period, you can start a more intense walking program. Speed interval walking is an excellent way to burn calories fast and lose that fat around the waist.

4. Walking will lift your mood when you feel anxious or depressed after a hysterectomy. Regular walks will give you new energy, clear your mind, and make you more alert.

5. If you are having problems with constipation after hysterectomy, walking is a must. It stimulates the muscles of your digestive tract and helps you have regular bowel movements.

Other low-impact exercises after hysterectomy

When can you go swimming after a hysterectomy?

This is something you will have to discuss with your doctor. Relaxed swimming is a low-impact exercise that provides an entire body workout without stressing your abdominals. Most doctors will let you swim when your stitches have dissolved and your wound is fully healed. This is usually around two weeks after the surgery.

Most swimming pools contain chlorine that will kill harmful bacteria, so the risk of infection is very low. Other doctors insist you should delay swimming until your 6-week checkup. They argue there may still be light bleeding during recovery, and the inner incision (vaginal cuff) may not have completely healed.

Pelvic floor exercise after hysterectomy

Before you start exercises that may strain the pelvic floor, you should start by strengthening those muscles as they may be weakened or damaged from your surgery. Training the pelvic floor muscles is the best exercise after hysterectomy you can do to prevent prolapse.

Usually, the doctor will allow you to start gentle pelvic floor exercises as soon as they remove your catheter. If these exercises cause you pain, stop them for a few days, and then try again. Remember that your pelvic floor muscles offer support for your internal organs and may protect you from future problems like leaking urine or bowel incontinence.

Vigorous Exercise after hysterectomy

vigorous exercises after hysterectomy

You should avoid any exercise after hysterectomy, which includes intense abdominal exertion, stretching, or putting extra pressure on the pelvic floor for at least 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. This depends, of course, on the type of hysterectomy surgery you had.
Normally, you can resume the following exercises after 6 weeks:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming

Wait until 8 weeks with the following exercises as they not only put great strength on the pelvic floor but also toss around your abdominal contents.

  • Jogging /Running
  • Horse riding
  • Zumba
  • Racquet sports
  • Weightlifting

Starting with this type of strenuous activity too soon may cause internal injuries and delay your recovery immensely.

Why are there lifting restrictions after hysterectomy?

Surgeons often say: lift nothing heavier than a gallon of milk in the postoperative period.

Or, no vacuuming, and don’t bend for 3 to 4 weeks.

These guidelines may vary from surgeon to surgeon. No study exists explaining when to resume certain activities and which exercises will harm a woman’s recovery. Their advice is mostly based on intuition and experience.

Heavy lifting will increase the pressure in the abdominal area and put extra tension on the healing wound. High-impact activities may also cause pelvic organ prolapse when the pelvic muscles have not regained most of their pre-operative strength.

You must follow the instructions of your surgeon. He knows exactly how complicated your surgery was and what is safe in your situation.

When can you do abdominal /core exercises after hysterectomy?

Are you eager to go back to the gym to start with abdominal exercises?

Do none of your clothes fit because of your swollen belly?

You’re wrong if you believe this abdominal swelling after a hysterectomy will disappear with a few ab workouts. Swelling of the abdomen is from fluid retention and abdominal gas and can sometimes last up to six months after the hysterectomy. Wearing an abdominal binder in the early postoperative weeks can be helpful to keep the abdominal swelling down.

By doing unsuitable exercises, there is not only a greater risk of injury, but it can also stretch and weaken your pelvic floor muscles. The pressure produced during intensive abdominal exercises may weaken your incision or reopen the wound. This inner wound may take up to 3 months to heal completely.

So, to be safe, begin your abdominal core muscle exercises slowly.

Here are some acceptable exercises to start with.


For the pelvic tilt, you have to lie on your back and bend your knees, tilt your pelvis, and flatten your lower back to the ground.

Try and hold for a count of 5 and then relax. You can repeat this exercise 5 times. As your abs get stronger, slowly increase this to 15 times.

KNEE PLANK (or half plank)

Knee planks are easier than traditional ones and a safer exercise choice after hysterectomy. Get on all fours and lower your elbows to the floor. The elbows need to be directly under your shoulders. Slowly slide your legs backward while keeping your knees on the floor. Lift your lower back, engage your abs, and hold for 30 seconds.


This simple exercise will help you to activate your core muscles. Again, you get on your hands and knees. Position your shoulders right above your hands and your hips above the knees. While you take a deep breath, you let your belly hang to the ground. Next, you exhale and pull your stomach in as far as possible. Hold this position for 10 seconds and relax for 5 seconds. You can start with 6 to 8 repetitions.

How to exercise after hysterectomy with bladder repair?

When starting an exercise program after a hysterectomy with vaginal repair surgery, getting guidance from a physical therapist is a good idea. Working with an experienced physical therapist offers you the easiest and safest way to improve your health and fitness.

It is important to start physical activities safely, especially for women with complicated surgeries and multiple repairs. A physical therapist has the knowledge and expertise to design a program that works best for you. They can also teach you how to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder to prevent a repeat prolapse. If you worry about the cost, your surgeon may prescribe physical therapy. It’s likely (make sure you check first) that your insurance will cover the cost.

In conclusion

After any surgery, one of the most difficult things is to start the exercise program and resume your normal activities. After a hysterectomy, returning to normal is a gradual process, and you do not have a hush-hush about it. Improving the parts’ strength, mobility, and flexibility may take weeks. Therefore, it is important to start slowly by understanding your limitations.

Especially when you feel pain, fatigue, or start to bleed, your body is giving you a clear sign that you need to slow down. Be sure to consult your doctor when is the right time to go back to exercise after hysterectomy, especially the ones that include abdominal muscle exercises and stretching.

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  1. Hello, How long do I have to wait before I play golf again after a vaginal repair and hysterectomy Regards Judy

  2. Hi l had a viginal bladder and posterior repair and hysterectomy 14 week ago. I had a infection due to a stich that didn’t desolve which set me back for 2/3week. My age is age 70 before my operation l done pilaties and yoga.. When can go back to pilaties or yoga l am only feeling better but get tired. Ann

    1. Hi Ann, with repair surgery I would definitely consult the doctor who performed the surgery, before starting yoga or pilates. Those exercises involve a lot of stretching and can put stress on your pelvic floor.

  3. Hi I have a total hysterectomy and I want to start the exercise, I have a colostomy , so the only exercise that I do until now was walking and up and down the stairs, and some up and down pelvic exercise but slowly( was too painful) thank you. Where I find somebody to help me with more?

  4. I had a partial abdominal hysterectomy on March 27th 2019. Procedure went without complications so I was sent home two days later. The only experience I had post op was dizziness and that stop after my third week when I started walking for exercise. Before the surgery I was very active , exercised five to six days per week so it was a challenge to remain inactive for so long . I never experienced pain or bleeding up to this day and now I walk for an hour and a half up to six days per week. I didn’t put on any weight nor did I suffer with swollen tummy I suppose because of the way I ate before and during the hysterectomy.

    I have to remind myself seven weeks post op that I had this surgery done, I suppose I am fortunate that I didn’t experience any negatives and for that I am very thankful.

    One thing I realized though is that you must have lots of patience and follow the docs advise.

  5. Hi I had a total Hysterectomy in December 2018 and after 5 days of my opp I caught Sepsis. Now it’s been more than 4 months but my stomach swells up lot everyday. I have started walk about 5000 steps a day. My GP asked me for core strength excersice. Please advice

  6. I had a Vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy in Jan 2017, due to how crazy I am about exercise plus I am a runner, I started running and exercise a week after because I felt great! Since I have problems with my bowel, extreme pain, cramping, and my bowel movement has changed . No matter what I do or not, what I eat I always have pain in my lower abdominal feels like a period pain.
    I ‘ve gone to my doctor many times, got referred to GI and I was diagnosed with IBS in December 2017.
    I tried everything, medications, extreme diet, naturopath . CT, Ultrasound, X-try and colonoscopy all came back normal. I am still suffering and in pain 24/7.
    I want to be pain free, I am tired and worried what is this? When doctor told me I have IBS which I don’t even have IBS symptoms I got worried they missing some thing. I been suffering with this pain since April 2017. Recently I was referred to see a surgeon same doctor did my hysterectomy last year. My appointment with her is next week April 25, not sure what can she do?
    Any impacts make my pain worse specially running… Any suggestions or Idea ?

  7. Hi I had a vaginal hysterectomy on the 28th March 2018. They left my ovaries. I had a prolapse removed at the same time. I have been advised I can’t do anymore weights now at my gym only cardio because there could be a chance my prolapse could come back. I’m totally gutted. What exercises do you recommend please?

    1. Hi, you can do some weights like in a horizontal position for arms and legs. It is important that there is no pressure on the pelvic floor when you exercise. Yoga and pilates excellent exercises to strengthen your whole body and some will also strengthen your pelvic floor. Stationary bike, swimming and exercises hanging on a bar. There are so many exercises to strengthen the muscles of your arms, legs, back and core that do not involve the pelvic floor.

  8. Finally, some answers to when I can start to address the weight I’ve put on post-op. Thanks!

    1. I can relate. I had TAH by c-section on 9th Jan 2018. I was 57kg pre-op and 60kg post op. Never seen my weight touch 60 mark before. This got me worried. So i started on 30 min walks and gradually picked it up to an hr walks of 6000 – 7000 steps (approx 4km) on alternate days. I began cutting down on sugar and carbs while taking more protein and fibre foods. Just by doing this I am now 56kg. I hv begun to hv cheat days where i eat wat i like once a week but still moderately and mindfully. I feel healthier and more energetic. My sugar and carb cravings have disappeared. Dont be mistaken, i hv not completely stopped but reduced consumption a lot. I can see a visual reduction in belly fat but still hv to work on it more in coming months. I dont want to strain the abdomen too early. So decided to focus on reducing my weight first.
      Wish you a good recovery!

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