Get Moving After Weight-Loss Surgery
After bariatric surgery, a patient needs to exercise to lose weight — and then to keep it off. The trick is finding something that you enjoy, and then sticking with it.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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After your weight-loss surgery (WLS), you will need to make adjustments to your lifestyle to help you lose weight and keep it off. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine is one adjustment that is recommended for most people who have had WLS.
Bariatric Surgery: Benefits of Exercise
Many WLS patients couldn’t exercise before their procedures because of obesity-related health conditions such as breathing problems, joint pain, and heart conditions. But exercise will become easier as you lose weight.
Your medical team will carefully assess your health after your surgery for weight loss and recommend an exercise routine that will be safe and effective.
There are many reasons why exercise is an essential part of your management plan after surgery for weight loss. Becoming more active has the following benefits:
- Promotes weight loss.People who exercise after bariatric surgery are more likely to successfully lose weight and keep it off.
- Preserves muscle mass.When you lose weight quickly, you could end up losing too much muscle mass. Exercise is a good way to shed fat while preserving and building up your muscle mass.
- Give you more energy.People who exercise find that they have more energy than those who are inactive.
- Reduces blood pressure.If high blood pressure is a problem for you, exercising regularly can help keep your blood pressure levels under control.
- Improves your mood.Regular exercise can help lift your mood, give you increased self-esteem, and combat stress.
- Keeps your bones strong.Losing a lot of weight over a short period of time can result in bone loss in some people. When you exercise, you can offset some of the bone loss, and even strengthen your bones.
- Builds up your immunity.Exercising on a regular basis can boost your immune system, helping your body fight off illness more efficiently.
Bariatric Surgery: What Exercises Work
Your medical team will help design an exercise plan that works for you. It is a good idea to work with a physical therapist or an exercise specialist to learn new exercises and to make sure that you are doing them properly.
The following exercises are often recommended for people who have had weight-loss surgeries:
- Walking.Walking is a great exercise to do after bariatric surgery, and many people can walk soon after having surgery — while they are still in the hospital. In fact, getting up and moving around as much as possible in the first few weeks after your surgery is an important part of your recovery.
- Bike riding.Stationary bike riding is a good low-impact exercise that can increase your endurance after bariatric surgery. As your fitness improves, you may decide to progress to outdoor cycling as well.
- Housework and gardening.Just being active around your home by doing housework and gardening is an effective way to exercise.
- Stair-climbing.As your endurance improves and your can tolerate more exercise, you can begin to incorporate more vigorous exercises, such as stair-climbing, into your exercise routine.
- Strengthening exercises.Resistance training can preserve and build up your muscle mass. Your physical therapist or trainer can help design a routine that exercises your major muscle groups two to three times a week.
- Stretching.Flexibility exercises can help increase your range of motion and exercise your joints.
- Leisure activities.Doing something you like is a great way to stick with a regular exercise routine. So find some activities you enjoy, such as playing tennis, swimming, or gardening, and add them to your exercise schedule.
Your endurance and ability to exercise will most likely improve after your surgery, but it won't happen overnight. Work with your medical team to safely build up your exercise routine over time. Eventually, your goal should be to perform 30 minutes of moderate exercise — such as walking briskly, stair-climbing, or cycling — every day.
Video: Bariatric Weight-loss Surgery Success at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
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