Health Team

Exercising after surgery is key to recovery

Posted March 25, 2015

After she had her left hip replaced 11 years ago, Cindy McAbee wondered if she could ever get back to normal activity.

“Four years later, my right hip started hurting,” said McAbee, 61. “I went in to the doctor, and while I was there I said, ‘by the way, what is this?’ I pointed down and showed him my calf.”

It was a large, soft-tissue cancer.

McAbee spent a year with surgery and radiation treatments, and then she had her right hip replaced. She was out of work for more than nine months.

Duke University Hospital exercise physiologist Michelle Mosberger helped McAbee get back on her feet and back to work.

In the gym at Duke's Center for Living, patients come for heart rehabilitation or with diabetes issues or Parkinson's disease. Specialists adapt rehabilitation programs to their needs.

“If you compare it to another gym in the area, you won't find any of the higher-risk folks getting the attention that we are qualified to give them,” Mosberger said.

Once insurance stopped covering her rehabilitation, McAbee decided to continue under Mosberger's guidance in order to build up her strength.

“I decided to spend my money now on me,” McAbee said. “It was either now or spend it in some nursing home later.”

Mosberger said, “We have a lot of fun together so she makes it very easy for me to work with her.”

McAbee said she feels great, but she knows she can't stop making exercise a regular habit.

“Very quickly you lose the ground that you've achieved if you don't keep using it,” she said.

WRAL health expert Dr. Allen Mask said those who haven't had major surgery or disease setbacks should be inspired by McAbee's determination to exercise.

Joining a gym isn’t necessary to make significant health improvements, he said. Simply walking 30 to 45 minutes a day can help anyone lose weight and feel better.


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