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Over 7,500 daily steps before surgery tied to fewer complications

Posted October 21st, 2023, 12:52 PM IST

Over 7,500 daily steps before surgery tied to fewer complications

New York: People who recorded more walking activity prior to surgery, regardless of complexity of the operation or their health status, showed 51 per cent reduced odds for postoperative complications than less active patients, according to new research.

The odds of experiencing a complication within 30 days after surgery were less if patients took more than 7,500 steps per day prior to surgery than if they recorded fewer than 7,500 steps.


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Postoperative complications typically occur in about 30 per cent of patients, and about half of all complications occur after the patient leaves the hospital.

“Fitbits and other wearable devices could potentially be linked to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and have that data be something that surgeons consider when planning perioperative care for their patients,” said lead study author Carson Gehl from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in the US.

Researchers analysed health data for 475 people who used a Fitbit device, worn like a watch, that measured their daily steps.

Participants underwent a wide range of operations, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and neurosurgery, and were an average age of 57 years old.

About 12.6 per cent of study participants experienced a complication within 90 days of surgery.

After adjusting for comorbidities, BMI, sex, race, and complexity of the operation, the odds of experiencing a complication were 51 per cent lower if patients had Fitbit data showing they had walked more than 7,500 steps per day before surgery.

“If we find people who are at high risk, using these Fitbit tools, we could monitor them more closely following their procedure because that allows us to catch problems before they progress beyond control,” Gehl said.

“Another goal of our research is to modify physical activity in the preoperative period and improve postoperative outcomes. We need more studies and evidence to answer that question,” the authors noted.

The research was presented at the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress 2023.

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