The decision to undergo bariatric surgery can be life-changing. Weight loss surgery is not the end of the journey, but it is the beginning of a new and healthier you. Following your surgery, you may be anxious to start exercising—something that may have been difficult for you prior to surgery due to the extra weight.
After your surgery, you will need to adhere to a nutritious diet and regular exercise plan in order to continue losing weight. If you have had or are considering having weight loss surgery, here are a few tips for post-surgery exercise.
• Check with your doctor first. Before beginning any exercise program, get approval from your doctor. Recovery time from bariatric surgery can vary from person to person and you want to be sure your body is ready for exercise.
• Find exercise you enjoy. The more you enjoy the type of exercise you chose, the more likely you will be to stick to an exercise program. The best forms of exercise post-bariatric surgery include walking, flexibility and strength training,
• Be prepared. Invest in a new pair of shoes. Go to Luke’s Locker or another shoe store where a trained professional can help you find the shoe that is the best fit for your feet. Drink plenty of water before and after exercise and always have a water bottle handy.
• Keep things interesting. Try mixing things up. Go for a walk one day, swim the next, or join an exercise class. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also what you need in your exercise program to keep from getting bored. Variety also helps the body burn more calories and fat because it keeps the body from adapting to any one form of exercise. When that happens, you’ll notice a plateau in your weight loss and overall improvement.
• Start slow. Walking is perhaps the best form of exercise to start with after you’ve had bariatric surgery. Begin by walking on a flat surface, and gradually incorporate hills into your workout. You can walk inside on a track or treadmill, or outside around your neighborhood or on a local path or trail.
• Gradually increase intensity, time, distance, and speed. As your body becomes accustomed to working out, you will find you are able to exercise harder for longer periods of time or distance and at a faster speed. Push yourself to gradually improve by regularly increasing intensity, time, distance and speed.
• Reduce impact. People who are overweight tend to have joint issues, and these can be exacerbated by exercise. Exercise routines that involve running and jumping are not ideal for someone who suffers from joint pain. Some low impact forms of exercise include water exercise, elliptical, rowing and yoga.
• Include strength training. A healthy combination of strength training and cardio exercise is needed to burn the most calories and develop a strong, lean body. Strength training is not recommended for the first three months after weight loss surgery. It’s also important that you use correct form when lifting weights; consider working with a professional fitness trainer who can teach you proper form for strength training.
• Set goals. Take some time to think about your end goal and set milestones to achieve along the way. Your doctor or personal trainer may be able to help you set goals. Remember to be specific—instead of setting a goal to lose weight, set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight by a specific date. If you miss a workout or fall behind on reaching your goals, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, set your mind to begin again tomorrow. We all have bad days; those who are successful are able to get up and keep moving forward.
Exercising regularly will give you more energy and improve your physical and mental health. It will reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, and can help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. Exercise can also help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Choosing to exercise and sticking with it will improve your overall quality of life, so what are you waiting for?