Benefits of prehabilitation

Research has shown that prehabilitation has many benefits

Benefits of prehabilitation include: 

  • You are more likely to keep or improve your physical ability/fitness
  • Reduced complications after treatment and surgery
  • Reduced side effects
  • Less time in hospital after your treatment
  • Quicker return to your normal fitness level after surgery or other treatments

Medical Assessment and Optimisation 

Your Medical Team will first conduct a thorough assessment of your medical state. They will then make plans for your prehabilitation.  

They will base you plan on:  

  • Your medical condition  
  • The nature of the procedure you are having

Often, this process may involve having a fitness test of your heart and lungs. We refer to this as a Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET). This usually involves checking your heart and lungs while you exercise on a bicycle. You will exercise for 10-15 minutes, or about a quarter of an hour. You may have to set aside about one hour for the procedure though. 

Your doctors will ensure that it is safe for you to start your prehabilitation journey. They may then refer you to other clinicians. 

These clinicians may:  

  • Prescribe an exercise program 
  • Check your blood levels for iron 
  • Ensure you have a strategy for good nutrition 
  • Check your medications 
  • Attend to any psychological issues you may need help with

Your Medical Team will:  

  • Track your progress with prehabilitation  
  • Coordinate your date of surgery or transplant

This way we maximise the time available before your procedure to get you fit. 

We can improve your medical conditions, fitness, and wellness levels using prehabilitation. Proof of this has come from International Research Teams. These teams include anaesthetic doctors on our Parkville campus. These teams have also proven that good responses to prehabilitation reduce post-surgery complications.

Learn more about anaesthesia and preparing for surgery

Exercise Professional 

People with cancer should be as active as their abilities and condition allows. More is better than some and anything is better than nothing. This is particularly true when it comes to exercise during this time. 

Our team can create an exercise program tailored to your abilities and needs. This team will include physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. They will get your strength and fitness as good as you can before/during your treatment. This plan will also help you return to normal fitness after surgery. 

Often your performance during the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) guides our exercise prescription. 

We can also provide you with education about lung exercises. These will reduce the risk of any issues developing in your lungs after your procedure.

Learn more about our Cardiopulmonary exercise testing


You may be undergoing a major surgery or a bone marrow transplant. If so, your body will use up lots of protein and calories in the healing and recovery process. We store protein in our muscles. As a result, we want to make sure you have a good amount of muscle built up before such procedures. You can do this by exercising, eating, and drinking enough high protein foods. Such foods include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and legumes. Your dietitian may also suggest some protein supplement drinks. 

You may have difficulty eating enough in the lead up to your procedure. This can be due to a poor appetite. You may also have lost weight without trying, which means you are likely to have lost some of your muscle mass. It is important to keep your current weight and not to lose weight in the weeks before your procedure.  This will prevent muscle loss no matter what your weight is. You may have lost weight without trying. Or, you may be having difficulties eating and drinking. If so, dietitian will help you work through these issues. They will then help you to increase your muscle and body stores. 

Visit our Nutrition and Dietetics for more information  

Psychology/Strategies to help prepare for treatment 

Looking after your psychological wellbeing is helpful. It helps you better cope with, and recover from, your surgery or transplant. This can help improve your quality of life. It can also reduce physical symptoms and improve your mood. Our Clinical Psychologists can offer a range of psychological therapies and interventions. These can help you prepare for the challenges of your cancer and upcoming procedure. These challenges can be emotional and psychological. Our psychologists will adapt their approach to meet your needs. 

Visit our Psychology webpage for more information 

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