Oesophageal Patients Association
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It has been nearly a year since my oesophagectomy (3 Feb 2012 Edinburgh Royal Infirmary). Everything has gone well so far and I'm almost feeling back to normal - eating and everything is fine. Occasional tiredness is the main issue but that could be just looking after two children full-time (age 3 & 5). I am looking to start exercising (other than walking to school & nursery several times a day and gentle cycle rides) to build up my fitness level. I want to start with swimming but wonder if there are activities to be avoided, for example weight training. i just wondered what other people have tried/been advised.



6 Replies

Hi Stuart

I had my operation six years ago and am now back to a normal fitness..Swimming is a great exercise but I found it was better to stick to breasr stroke as front crawl can cause reflux.Weight training is also excellent but start with light weights and gradually build up.Its about pacing yourself in the early days but over time you will regain your fitness.



Hi Stuart

I am fourteen months post op and have been playing golf every weekend for about six months - walking nine holes at first but can do eighteen holes now.

I get tired sometimes but no worse than younger colleagues I play with - I have no twinges or pain while playing but some aches from left side now and again after playing.

I would say give things a go and see how you feel



Hi Stuart,

I'm 20 months post op. I started back in the gym after 10 months. Starting with light weights and low resistance on the cardiovascular equipment i've gradually increased my strength and stamina and now it's almost as it was pre op. You'll soon find out what exercises are a no no.

Take things slowly and don't be embarrased bythe low settings on the machines.


I have tried Tai Chi as a low impact exercise for stretching and tone. I am still unable due to lengthy recovery to do more strenous exercise, but have found that the Tai Chi serves the purpose well enough. I bought a DVD of the Tai Chi that has lower impact on the back due to osteoporosis and some slinal issues that resulted from surgery/recovery/achalasia malnutrition. For a self-guided low-impact exercise, it does pretty well.



I had my op just after you (last March) followed by adjuvant chemo until late July. I started swimming immediately after chemo and did so daily until the end of October. I also do two to three hours a week with a trainer, with light 1 kg weights and a wide range of exercises, and do basic exercises on other days plus walking. I am sure exercise that you can cope with will be very beneficial. It certainly has been for me. I am probably a lot older than you (71) and I lost almost a third of my body weight with complete loss of appetite (a sort of anorexia which is slowly passing - has anyone else had something similar?) Exercise was excellent in combating weakness and reducing the inevitable tiredness.


I think that many people's taste buds get thrown into complete confusion and these take some time to be restored. Nobody seems to be able to hurry the process.

There is also a great reluctance to eat, sometimes, caused perhaps by the fear of the after-effects that will follow. But gentle perseverance does tend to train the body's system into accepting a better eating regime, but you always have to be careful about quantities and some things that increase the chances of 'dumping'.

Do not overdo the exercise - it really is beneficial, but needs to be increased slowly - otherwise you suffer the day after!

I think lifting weights whilst bending down might be counter-productive; you have to remember that after a conventional oesophagectomy your stomach is now much higher up in your chest area, and pressure within the chest might well squeeze its contents upwards.


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