Some physicians don't place any restrictions on bending or lifting. Others suggest a rehab program to help the patients gradually regain function, strength, and overall fitness. A physical therapist can help patients with posture, lifting and bending, strength training, and return to fitness/function.
If you have a disc removed along with a laminectomy (bone removed) and spinal fusion, then actvitiy restrictions may be slightly different for a longer period of time. Be sure and ask your doctor what advice he or she feels is best. Ask about the role of exercise and activity. When evaluating what you are told, let good common sense guide you as well.