Peri-operative Exercise and Physical Activity

Theme lead

Professor Thomas​ Bandholm


Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) research is a multi-modal approach to the design of best-evidence care pathways to enhance recovery of patients undergoing surgery. One important modality of ERAS is exercise and physical activity. Exercise and physical activity is part of first-line, non-surgical patient care and post-operative rehabilitation for many types of surgery. For exercise, the focus can be local (i.e., operated joint muscles and joint function) or more remote or global (i.e., metabolism and health status). In case of physical activity, the focus is almost always metabolism and health status.


We want to understand if and how exercise and physical activity can enhance recovery after major surgery.  We investigate exercise and physical activity-interventions before surgery to understand if they can help coordinate non-surgical and surgical care and the decision to have surgery - or impact post-operative recovery, if operated. We investigate exercise and physical activity interventions during hospitalization to understand if and how they can reduce risk and promote early safe discharge. We investigate exercise and physical activity interventions after surgery to understand if and how they can enhance post-operative recovery. We are particularly interested in researching health care interventions that are common practice but are implemented based on tradition more that scientific evidence. We try very hard to ask questions that challenge our own and other’s preconception or cognitive biases. 

We believe that it is not enough to be able to develop fantastic research questions if the efforts to answer them are poor. We therefor conduct “research on research” to identify problems in current research practice. We develop clinical research methodology tools to address identified problems and to help us do better research. 

Examples of ongoing work

Selected outputs

Bandholm T, Wainwright TW, Kehlet H.
Rehabilitation strategies for optimisation of functional recovery after major joint replacement. J Exp Orthop. 2018 Oct 11;5(1):44.

Jakobsen TL, Jakobsen MD, Andersen LL, Husted H, Kehlet H, Bandholm T.
Quadriceps muscle activity during commonly used strength training exercises shortly after total knee arthroplasty: implications for home-based exercise-selection. J Exp Orthop. 2019 Jul 2;6(1):29.

Bandholm T, Christensen R, Thorborg K, Treweek S, Henriksen M.​
Preparing for what the reporting checklists will not tell you: the PREPARE Trial guide for planning clinical research to avoid research waste. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Oct;51(20):1494-1501.

Bandholm T, Thorborg K, Ardern CL, Christensen R, Henriksen M. 
Writing up your clinical trial report for a scientific journal: the REPORT trial guide for effective and transparent research reporting without spin Br J Sports Med 2022 (Epub ahead of print). ​