Breathing and Leg Exercises

These exercises will help you recover from surgery more quickly. The nurse will be glad to answer any questions you may have about the exercises. Please practice them before you go to surgery. Coughing and deep breathing exercises will help you clear and expand your lungs and help prevent pneumonia. Leg exercises are important in helping to prevent blood clots and circulation problems in your legs following surgery. You may be asked to wear elastic stockings (TEDs) or SCDs (sequential compression devices) until you are able to be out of bed for most of the day.  Learn more about preventing DVTs and blood clots.

Incentive Spirometer (Deep Breathing Exercise)

  • Place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Draw in air as if you were sipping liquid through a straw. Do this 10 times every hour while you are awake.
  • Try to hold in the inhaled air for 3 seconds. Take several normal breaths before attempting another breath using the spirometer. Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times¬† each hour you are awake.

Coughing and Deep Breathing

  • Take a deep breath through your nose to filter, warm and moisten the air.
  • Hold your breath for a short time. Exhale (breathe out) slowly and gently through pursed lips (as if you were blowing out a candle).
  • Do this for three breaths. On the third breath, cough instead of breathing out. Coughing is done to try to bring up any mucus from your lungs. Repeat this deep breathing two more times.

Leg Exercises

  • With your legs straight, first point toes, then bring your toes up toward your head. Do this exercise 10 times every hour with one foot and then the other.
  • With your legs straight, rotate your ankles one at a time, as if you were drawing little circles with your toes. Do this exercise 10 times with one foot and then the other.