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Exercising After Weight Loss Surgery


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

One of the key steps to reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals is getting enough exercise. When you think about exercising after surgery, you may have some questions regarding what’s safe during the recovery process. Continue reading to learn about why exercise is important after bariatric surgery and how you should go about finding a routine that works for you.                                       

Why is Exercise Important after Bariatric Surgery?

Exercise and good nutrition are keys to reaching and maintaining your best health after bariatric surgery. Some benefits of staying active include:

  • Preserve lean muscle mass and muscle strength
  • Promote the stability of your joints
  • Enhance the strength of your bones
  • Improve the elasticity of your skin after surgery
  • Continue your weight loss after surgery, and most importantly keep the weight off
  • Improve your mental health

In addition to these benefits, exercise can help improve existing medical conditions and health.

How to Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery

2-4 Weeks after Weight Loss Surgery: Light Exercises

When you’re recovering from surgery, it’s important to take things slow and be aware of how your body feels. A few weeks after bariatric surgery, you might still feel tired from the surgery. This is normal after surgery. You are taking in less calories and protein than before and you are recovering from the anesthesia.  Everyone is different and recovers at different rates. If you feel too weak to exercise, focus on getting the amount of protein and fluids you need. Once you feel well enough to complete light exercises, walking is the best starter exercise. Start with 5-10 minutes of walking around your home or outside. Some exercise is better than no exercise.  Even some movements can increase blood flow and make you feel better. Light exercises to try include:

  • walking
  • stretching

1-2 Months After Weight Loss Surgery: Cardio

Once you’ve reached your one to two-month post-surgery milestone, it’s time to start thinking about incorporating more exercises into your daily routine. During this time, you can incorporate exercises for building cardiovascular fitness, improving endurance, and releasing stress. Cardio exercises to consider include:

  • swimming
  • hiking
  • walking
  • cycling

6 Months After Weight Loss Surgery: Strength Training & Aerobic Exercise.

Once you’ve hit the six-month mark, it’s safe to include both strength training and aerobic exercise. Don’t be afraid to try new exercises. You might find that you’re able to complete workout routines you might have previously thought were impossible. It’s not necessary to go to the gym. There are many exercises you can do at home; many are free on YouTube. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about how much exercise is right for you.

Exercises: What You Need to Know

You may be reluctant about working out after surgery. Perhaps you’re worried about creating an injury or putting strain on your body. While these feelings are normal, exercising can help you reach your weight loss goals Exercise is a tool for a healthy life. It’s recommended you exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week. The safest approach is to discuss your exercise routine with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re on the right track to meeting your personal goals.

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