Exercises After Bariatric Surgery: A Detailed Post-Surgery Guide

Exercises After Bariatric Surgery

Explore a comprehensive guide to exercises suitable after bariatric surgery, promoting recovery and well-being.

Bariatric surgeries are procedures that help individuals lose weight. This term encompasses many different types of weight loss surgery and non-surgical procedures such as gastric balloons and Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty. If you are planning to undergo any type of weight-loss procedure, it will be essential that you maintain a consistent routine of physical activity for your weight loss to be successful. Today we are going to talk about the importance of exercise after bariatric surgery.

Why Should I Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?

The plethora of bariatric surgeries and procedures available to us today are powerful weight loss tools but they do not perform miracles. For patients to move forward in their life after bariatric surgery, they will need to make significant lifestyle changes including committing to a consistent, healthy diet, and exercise routine. Exercising after bariatric surgery provides many benefits for those who will be consistent and commit to a routine.

The Benefits of Exercises After Bariatric Surgery Include:

1. Losing the “Right” Kind Of Weight, and More of It!

According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, patients who had undergone weight loss surgery and continually exercised, reduced their body mass index (BMI) by almost 5% more than those who did not.

When our body begins to shed pounds, it will eliminate both muscle and fat. We do not want to lose muscle, so exercising is very important to help retain lean muscle and eliminate fat. We wish to retain muscle not only for the definition it provides but also because muscles do many jobs including burning calories, attributing to strength and stamina, helping support bones and joints, aiding in the control of blood sugar levels, and many other capacities that help us to stay healthy.

2. Increases Energy Levels and Productivity

Incorporating a consistent exercise routine into your everyday life improves your blood circulation, aids your immune system to keep you from getting sick, strengthens your heart, increases stamina levels, and eventually makes it easier to fulfill your everyday activities. There have also been studies indicating regular exercise after bariatric surgery enhances your mental capabilities as well as your health. Many patients who have lost weight have reported that they could see a marked difference in their energy levels and ability to get things done within the first 3 months after their weight loss procedure. Even simple things like being able to play with their children at the park or going shopping did not take as much effort or leave them completely winded.

3. Enhances Mental Health

It has been scientifically proven that exercise produces endorphins, which are hormones naturally made by our bodies that create a feeling of calmness, well-being, and happiness. Many individuals who suffer from obesity also battle depression and anxiety for many different reasons. Going through weight loss surgery and incorporating all the necessary lifestyle changes involved is hard and can be overwhelming. Remaining consistent with your exercise routine will increase the blood flow to your brain which helps regulate depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

What is the Best Way to Exercise after Bariatric Surgery?

Now you know why it is so important to have a consistent and ongoing exercise routine, but what is the best way to start exercising after bariatric surgery? There are three key elements that you need to gradually incorporate to be successful, flexibility, cardio, and strength training.

Flexibility and Stretching

To avoid injury and enhance performance, you should incorporate flexibility exercises into your routine. Transitioning into stretching exercises after bariatric surgery helps increase the flow of blood to your muscles and loosen tendons. As athletes demonstrate, stretching can improve your performance. Thus, it is important to tailor a stretching routine to your personal needs and ensure that it is carried out properly.

A physical therapist can help create a routine for you that can progressively become more challenging as you grow stronger.

Cardio for Bariatric Patients

Regular cardio gets your blood flowing to burn calories and boost your metabolism. It can also help lessen feelings of anxiety, help you sleep better, and make you feel happy and confident. This is done through the magic of those endorphins we talked about earlier!

Cardio can be anything from walking, swimming, running, hiking, etc. Doing cardio exercises burns calories, when calories are burned the result is weight loss. The exact numbers will vary for each individual. Typically one must burn 3,500 more calories than are consumed to lose 1 pound. So for many that may mean cutting out 500 calories a day to lose a pound that week. Cutting out calories (eating less) or burning calories both help to lose fat but combining the two is a winning combination. To get an idea of what that looks like, here are some examples:

  • Walking 2 mph for 20 minutes burns 83 calories.

  • Doing housework for 20 minutes burns 63 calories.

  • Playing basketball (moderately) for 20 minutes burns 124 calories.

  • Jumping rope for 20 minutes burns 245 calories.

Weight/Strength Training

As we discussed previously, rapidly losing weight can also cause the loss of muscle. Strength training is what helps prevent some loss and helps build muscles. Muscle mass helps your body burn calories faster and more efficiently. Strength training exercises also help tone muscles that can help you develop core strength. Some strength training exercises include:

  • Lifting weights.

  • Lunges.

  • Squats.

  • Sit-ups.

  • Crunches.

When you begin adding strength training to your routine, you will slowly and gradually begin increasing your intensity.

About Exercises after Weight Loss Surgery – FAQs

Do You Lose Muscle after Bariatric Surgery?

Yes. Normally, the first three months after a bariatric weight loss procedure patients rapidly lose about 33% of their excess body weight. When weight loss occurs this fast, muscle is also lost but exercise is a healthy and safe way to preserve as much muscle as possible.

How Soon I Start Exercises After Bariatric Surgery?

Many people have questions about the exercise timeline after bariatric surgery. Here is an overview of what you can typically expect:

Right after surgery

The short answer is your exercise routine will start right away, and before you leave the recovery room, the medical team will have you up and walking around. This is done to the blood flowing and prevent clotting, but it is also going to be the majority of your exercise routine for a few weeks.

Your medical team will create and provide you with an individualized program that outlines a safe post-surgical activity and exercise plan. You will need to start slowly while your body is recovering, but the first exercise you will be instructed to focus on is walking.

After 2-4 weeks

Your exercise routine will begin to include some light flexibility exercises and stretching such as shoulder rolls, arm rotations, hamstring stretches, etc. You will begin to lengthen your walks, and possibly pick up the pace.

When you reach 5-6 weeks

Your body is continuing to strengthen and heal so it is now time to incorporate some cardio. Under the care of your doctor, you should begin exercising at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day. Water workouts or cycling may be a good choice as they are easier on the joints. However, your medical team can recommend activities that are good choices for you based on your circumstances.

When you get to the 7-8 week

It is time to begin adding strength training 2 days a week. Lunges, squats, and lifting weights are excellent exercises after bariatric surgery. You should follow your doctor’s recommended plan and stop any activity that causes any sharp pain. You want to “feel a burn” but also need to respect your body and use common sense. If you begin to feel sick to your stomach, chest pressure, or become abnormally short of breath, stop immediately and contact your doctor.

You will continue with these key exercise categories increasing the length and intensity of your workouts as time goes on. Keep in mind, that your body will naturally adapt to your level of activity and will begin burning fewer calories than it did previously with the same exercise levels. It will be necessary as you move forward to keep pushing yourself to do a little bit more each time.

How Can I Gain Muscle after Weight Loss Surgery?

After sufficiently healing from surgery, add strength training to your exercise routine last. Begin slowly and steadily building muscle. If you try to use weights that are too heavy, have too many repetitions, or train too frequently, you may injure yourself. As you gain strength, you can begin adding harder exercises, increasing the weights and the length of your workouts.

How Can I Tone My Arms after Weight Loss Surgery?

To give your arms a tighter appearance you can begin with strength training as muscle takes up more space under the skin. This can help reduce the look of loose skin while also providing tone and definition. Isolation exercises can help build up targeted muscle areas such as bicep curls, lateral shoulder raises, and overhead tricep extensions.

Can You Tighten Loose Skin after Weight Loss Surgery?

Often, drastic weight loss can cause loose or saggy skin. It is tough to predict if this will be an issue for you after your weight loss procedure. Each individual is different and is influenced by factors. For instance, age, amount of weight lost, how fast weight is lost, genetics, and level of aftercare. Proper nutrition, hydration, and exercise programs can all help your body heal after weight loss surgery. But may not resolve an excess amount of loose skin. Fortunately, there are cosmetic or body contouring procedures. Such as Tummy Tuck, and non-surgical treatments like Bodytite available that can alleviate loose skin.

The team at the IBI Healthcare Institute will work with you during the entire process and ensure you have an exercise plan specifically created for you. Weight loss surgery and all the lifestyle changes it brings are challenging and require dedication and commitment. You deserve a better and healthier life. We are here to support you as you work to attain your goals.

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