Get Fit & Stay Fit

Exercise for Bariatric Surgery Patients

Mar 10, 2016

By Marilyn Hoyt C.P.T N.A.S.M, C.E.C

Weight loss surgery is only the start of your weight loss journey. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a balance of nutrition and exercise.

Immediately following bariatric surgery, you will be limited in what you can do physically, giving your body time to heal. Many patients are excited to start working out after surgery, while others may face some anxiety about post-weight loss surgery exercise.

As you prepare to begin physical activity after bariatric surgery, here are some tips to help you stay motivated and keep you safe:

Talk to your doctor. First and foremost, be sure your doctor has cleared you for exercise. It’s important to be sure your body has healed and is ready for physical activity. Most patients should be able to begin a more intense exercise routine six weeks after surgery.

Take it slow. Allow yourself to ease into a regular fitness routine. You aren’t going to go run a marathon in the days following your surgery, but it is important to begin walking at least 20 minutes a day immediately after surgery. If needed, break it up with 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes later in the day. Start by walking on a flat surface and gradually increase difficulty by incorporating hills into your walk and take your speed up a notch or two.

Have fun. Find an exercise you will enjoy. If you don’t have some fun exercising, you will be less likely to keep up with a regular workout routine. The best exercise program for bariatric surgery patients includes a balance of endurance (walking, biking, swimming), flexibility (stretching and yoga) and strength training.

Get the gear. You’re on your way to a whole new you, so invest in the right gear you need to exercise, including breathable clothing and a good pair of shoes. To find athletic shoes that are the best fit for your foot, go to Luke’s Locker, or another specialty running/shoe store to be fitted by experts who will watch you walk and determine which shoes are best fit for you. A fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit can also be a great tool to keep track of your physical activity, heart rate, calories burned and even what you eat.

Change it up. Variety is key. If you do the same thing day after day, you will quickly get bored and lose your motivation. Rather than doing the same exercise routine every day, change things up to keep things interesting. For example: On Monday, go for a fast walk, on Tuesday, hit up the weights; on Wednesday, attend a group exercise class; on Thursday, go for a swim; on Friday, try some yoga. Variety in your workouts will also prevent your body from adapting to one form of exercise so you’ll keep burning lots of calories and avoid a plateau in your weight loss.

Focus on building strength. Strength training such as body weight exercises and lifting weights are some of the best exercises you can do to burn fat. In most cases, strength training is not recommended until you are at least three months post-op, so be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning strength training. To prevent injury while strength training, consider working with a professional fitness trainer who can teach you proper form.

Set clear goals. What is your end goal? What benchmarks will you set for yourself along the way? It’s important to have clear, realistic, measurable goals when you are trying to lose weight. To stay motivated along the way, take time to celebrate your small milestones. And on the days you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just set your mind to get back with it tomorrow.

Losing weight and keeping it off is the result of determination, dedication, and hard work. There is no easy way to lose weight, and healthy weight loss must include proper nutrition and regular exercise.

Marilyn Hoyt is a Dallas-based Certified Professional Trainer. She holds group workout sessions, including groups specifically designed for people who are significantly overweight, intermediate and advanced fitness camps, and provides in-home personal training.

“Aiming to educate, motivate, and inspire others to live life with purpose!”

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