Get Fit for Surgery 

Published on: July 9th 2024

Each year, Edinburgh Leisure’s Active Communities programme uses the power of physical activity to support over 12,000 disadvantaged people across the city to improve their health and wellbeing.  

One of its newest Active Communities projects is Get Fit for Surgery, which uses physical activity to support people waiting for hip and knee surgeries to prepare for and improve recovery from surgery. The 16-week programme supports participants to be active while they wait for surgery and is designed to improve their overall health and wellbeing by building fitness, muscle strength, balance and confidence. 

Graham, aged 71, has always been active. He enjoyed hill walking and cycling and even ran two marathons in his 40s.  More recently though, he has suffered from increasing knee pain that has made staying active more and more difficult. It was disturbing his sleep and he could no longer keep up with his grandchildren. His quality of life continued to deteriorate as he waited for a knee replacement, just one of 6,000 people in need of orthopaedic surgery across Edinburgh and the Lothians.  

“I agreed to start Get Fit for Surgery, expecting that the exercise regime would improve my chance of a swift recovery following surgery. What I got was so much more!  

The opportunity to gather with others facing a similar health situation broadened my perspective, eased my anxiety, and helped me to have a much more positive outlook on life. What’s more, my symptoms have improved so much that my Consultant and I have agreed that I no longer need the knee replacement at this time. Now, I’m continuing with physical activity with a renewed sense of commitment. I so enjoyed our Instructor Argy’s classes during Get Fit for Surgery, that I’ve started going along to his spin class!” 

Graham is not alone. 54 people have participated in Get Fit For Surgery, with 100% reporting that it helped them prepare for surgery physically. What’s more, 85% said it helped them to prepare mentally for surgery while 85% said they have increased their physical activity levels outside of class.  

Bryony Ross, Health Development Officer at Edinburgh Leisure, said:  “In Scotland, patients awaiting hip and knee surgery currently sit on the waiting list for two years on average. During this time, they report high levels of pain, increasingly poor quality of life and high levels of frailty as they become less and less mobile.  We are delighted that Get Fit for Surgery is playing a vital role in helping these patients to improve their health and wellbeing and we hope to secure funding to enable us to continue this important service across the city.” 

For more information on Get Fit for Surgery, see or contact [email protected]