Exercise Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Exercise Before and After Bariatric Surgery

As you prepare to embark on a weight loss journey with bariatric surgery, what can you do to increase your likelihood of success? Eating a balanced diet and following your doctor’s orders about food intake are critical, as is sticking with a daily exercise routine. Together, these can help you achieve long-term weight loss after bariatric surgery.

The Importance of Exercise for Weight Loss

An exercise routine is a key part of losing weight with bariatric surgery, especially for patients seeking long-term results. Diet is the only thing more important than exercise for your weight loss journey, but the two go hand-in-hand. Exercise boosts your metabolism, helping the body burn calories. This is particularly important after bariatric surgery because the body naturally slows metabolism as weight is shed.

Exercise offers a variety of potential physical and mental benefits for bariatric patients, including:

  • Stronger bones, muscles and lungs;
  • Lower risk of disease and cancer;
  • Increased levels of good cholesterol;
  • Lowered levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides;
  • Lower blood pressure;
  • Better blood sugar and insulin control;
  • Improved balance and mobility;
  • Reduced stress levels; and
  • Increased motivation, energy and mental sharpness.

Exercise Before Bariatric Surgery

A preoperative exercise plan should focus on weight loss and improving cardiovascular health – with the goal of lowering your risk of complications during surgery. In the weeks leading up to surgery, begin to develop a regular exercise routine. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Begin exercising slowly and build up to 30 to 60 minutes per day, six days a week.
  • Avoid exercises that put excess stress on the joints, like jumping and jogging.
  • Focus on low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise.
  • Emphasize duration over intensity.
  • Use light to moderate weights for strength training, aiming for two to three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
  • Avoid joint pain; if an exercise hurts, try to modify it so you don’t experience joint pain.

Expectations for Exercise After Surgery

It’s important to set realistic goals for exercising after undergoing bariatric surgery. Eventually, the goal is to exercise 30 to 60 minutes per day, six days a week. However, it takes time to get there, so start with smaller goals. Recovery is the immediate goal after gastric sleeve and gastric balloon surgeries. However, light physical activity is an important part of the recovery process.

Patients need to start walking as soon as they return home, and should walk every day after surgery. Patients can expect to begin a weekly exercise routine after three to six weeks. Around two to four weeks post-op, patients can begin low-impact exercises while sitting, like shoulder rolls, leg lifts and arm rotations. Aerobics are usually begun around one to three months after surgery, with strength training added last, at around four months post-op.

Tips for Exercising After Surgery

Always follow your doctor’s instructions for when and how to start exercising after bariatric surgery.  Begin with 20 to 30 minutes per day, broken into ten minute sessions. Start with a slow pace and gradually speed up as your endurance increases. The goal for exercising after surgery is consistency. You don’t need a rigorous workout to get results, but you do need to stick with a routine. Here are some tips for exercising after surgery:

  • Start slowly and increase gradually.
  • Beat muscle soreness by moving around and drinking water.
  • Invest in a pair of comfortable shoes and workout clothes.
  • Warm up before exercising to gradually increase your heart rate and loosen up your muscles.
  • Cool down after working out.
  • Stop immediately if you feel joint pain.

Three Types of Exercise

Build toward a balance of endurance, flexibility and strength with your exercise routine.

  • Endurance – Begin by walking and increase by adding hills or stairs, then progressing to low impact aerobic activity like riding a stationary bike or water aerobics.
  • Flexibility – Stretching is an important part of an exercise program; joining a beginner’s yoga class is a great way to learn to stretch properly.
  • Strength – Use exercise balls or light weights to develop strength and gradually increase your routine.

Sticking with Exercise

The importance of sticking with an exercise routine long term cannot be overstated. Regular exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle that will help you lose weight and keep it off. But there are times when it’s difficult to exercise. Here are some tips to help you push through:

  • Set and track goals.
  • Find a workout partner.
  • Change up your exercise routine.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine.
  • Keep pushing yourself.
  • Join a gym and keep your gym bag packed.

Weight loss is an exciting and intimidating journey. Exercise is an important key to success, both before and after surgery. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that’s best for you. If you’re interested in beginning a journey to a healthier weight, contact Dr. Borland. As a nationally recognized bariatric surgeon, he offers affordable weight-loss surgery in the United States. He and his team will guide you on your weight loss journey, every step of the way.