Exercise after bariatric surgery is one of the main three components of weight loss success. Physical activity should begin immediately after returning home from surgery and can be just a few minutes of daily walking. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense, like running or HIIT workouts, but patients should ease into it and start off slow.
Types of Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery
Whether dancing, walking, weights, or yoga, patients can incorporate hundreds of different exercises into their daily routines. The intensity of exercise can provide different results. Here is how intensities are defined:
- Light Exercise: Walking or elliptical
- strength Training: Free weights, lifting, yoga
- Interval Training: Crossfit, personal trainers, boot camp
How Beneficial Is Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?
Exercise provides many benefits to an individual’s health, some of which include
- Increase in weight loss
- Helps fight depression and lifts your mood
- Helps the healing process
- Helps to minimize post-bariatric surgery complications
- Improves overall health: lung, bone, muscles, cardiovascular, and mental.
- Promotes better sleep and sex life!
Patients can start mild exercise regimens before surgery and some bariatric surgeons will even require a full year of moderate exercise before patients are qualified. Simple activities, such as walking for 10 to 20 minutes per day, could be beneficial for morbidly obese patients before weight loss surgery and can get them into a healthy living mindset.
Patients are at increased risk of complications during the healing and recovery process of gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or other surgeries. This, in turn, causes most surgeons to recommend that patients begin a light exercise regimen two or three weeks after their surgery to help recovery.
Exercises to Do 1 Month to 6 Months Post-Op
Exercise in the First 1 to 2 Months After Surgery
Unless your surgeon says otherwise, walking is the only exercise you should do during the first two months. As your body is still weak and adapting to this major change, it’s important that you not push yourself and allow yourself time to heal. You can start off by walking 10 minutes at a time and incorporate it a few times a day if you feel up to it.
It might feel difficult, but your surgeon most likely will recommend walking and moving around as soon as you are able to help promote healing and disperse gas buildup. Because of its low-impact nature, water aerobics can also be acceptable once incision sites are healed but it is important to stop as soon as you feel like you have begun over-exerting yourself.
Important tip: Drink 64 oz daily to prevent dehydration when working out.
During the first three months, abdominal exercises must be avoided. You need to let your incisions heal and reduce pressure on your stomach while it is still sensitive.
Exercise During the 3 Months Post-Op
By the end of the second month, some patients feel more comfortable and want to start lifting weights or jogging. But it is recommended that you first discuss this with your surgeon or doctor to ensure your body is ready. Your coordination and balance can be in flux after losing a lot of weight in a short time, and it is important to get used to the feeling of your new body before diving into extreme exercise.
Exercise During Months 4 to 6 Post-Op
You can start off by working out one to two days a week and slowly increasing that to three to five days a week. Here are some great workout options to include in your routine:
- Yoga – can help patients increase flexibility, tone the body, improve metabolism, and circulate blood flow, improving healing and long-term weight loss.
- Brisk Walking – is a good start, and patients can increase to “speed walking” in the later months. Everyone can do it to maintain a healthy weight and get out of the house.
- Swimming – can be very physically demanding, so we recommend intermittent lite swimming. It’s a great way to increase the heart rate and has proven to reduce stress in many past patients.
- Dancing – can be fun and also help you meet your cardio goals. Improves bones, balance, heart, and muscle strength.
- Resistance Training – using light weights contributes to strengthening your body. Patients may find free weights, machines, or even resistance bands helpful to improve strength.
After 4 months, there are rarely any bariatric surgery-related complications. After speaking with your doctor, you should be able to enjoy a wide range of exercises, including:
- Kettlebell routines
- Weight Training
Exercises to Do 6 Months to 12 Months Post-Op
After six months, you should be able to endure 45-minute exercise sessions 3 to 5 times per week. In this stage, invest more time in resistance training, helping to increase your core muscles (abdominal, lower back, upper back), leg muscles, and upper-body muscles. Patients can now include more challenging exercises, like kickboxing and long-distance running.
Exercises to Do 1 Year and Beyond
Making the past year deserves a big congratulations! Getting to this point means you’ve probably shredded a significant portion of your excess weight. Some patients may have even lost 100 pounds or more.
Hitting the 1-year post-op mark is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations! At this point, you have probably lost a significant amount of weight, and now is not the time to give up.
Try these intense workouts to keep burning weight off:
- Interval training on the treadmill: walk-run or walk-jog intervals can keep increasing your metabolic rate to burn more fat.
- Activity-based hobbies: Hiking, running, swimming, and biking are all great hobbies to get you outdoors and moving.
How to Easily Get into an Exercise Routine
Exercise is essential to maintain long-term weight loss success. Create a steady exercise routine to build a strong heart and bones. If you are working out intensely, consume enough calories and protein to support your bodily functions.
- Find a friend to motivate one another
- Join a local gym or club
- Walk further by using stairs or parking further away
- Do things you love and become more active with those hobbies, sports, or activities
- Take your dog on more walks
- Find a routine that works for you
Exercises to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is considered one of the best ways to lose weight when diet and exercise have failed. However, bariatric surgery is not a substitute for diet and exercise. Once you’ve completed your surgery, you will need to start eating healthy and exercising regularly to help the weight loss occur. However, bariatric surgery is surgery. Although it’s usually minimally invasive surgery, there are some risks and recovery that you need to keep in mind.
Recovery Following Bariatric Surgery
Recovering from bariatric surgery involves a liquid diet. Most patients will have difficulty consuming ice and water on the first day. Eventually, they can move on to juice, broth, and fat-free milk. By the end of the first week, or shortly thereafter, they’ll be allowed yogurt, soft fruits, lean meat, and fish.
These extreme dietary restrictions speak to how delicate the body is following this surgery, and it could make exercise a bit more challenging. You’ll also have wounds that need to heal. While these wounds are not likely to be significant, you still need your body to heal. That is why in the earlier stages of recovery and weight loss, you may want to stay away from some exercises and speak to your doctor often about which exercises are best for you.
9 Great Exercises to Do Getting In or Out of Bed
When you are struggling with obesity or are highly overweight, knowing where to start regarding exercise can be difficult. It is important not to overdo it before starting to be physically active to avoid injury or overexertion.
Simple small steps that lead to further progress over time can be a great way to get your body used to being more active, and many of them can be done without even leaving the house!
Since we all get in and out of bed every day, why not fit your exercise routine in with something you do regularly? Here are 9 great exercises you can do at home, possibly with no equipment, that will help to improve your overall health and well-being.
1. Bedside Crunches
This simple exercise is done before you even get out of bed. Simply follow these steps:
- Sit with your legs hanging off the side of the bed
- Lay back with your hands on the back of your head (you can place pillows under your lower back for support if this helps)
- Sit up and bring your elbows toward your knees and your ribs toward your hips
- Do a set of as many repetitions as you can, up to 30 reps, before moving to the next exercise
Note: You should feel your muscles contracting as you do this, and you can either allow yourself to rest before each crunch or maintain a constant resistance by keeping your back slightly above the bed when you go back down on each repetition.
If using your bed for this exercise cannot be done easily, simply find a clear spot on the ground and do some standard crunches.
2. Lateral Leg Lift
This is a great exercise for sculpting your legs and thighs that can be done with or without a resistance band. Here are the steps:
- Find a soft area of the ground, such as the carpet or a yoga mat
- Lay on your side and bring your lower hand up to support your head with your elbow resting on the ground
- Bend your lower leg at a 90-degree angle and rest your upper hand on the ground near your shoulder
- Lift your upper leg to the side, keeping it straight, and point your toes and knee slightly outward
- Do this exercise for up to 20 reps on each leg
Note: This exercise can be done with a resistance band designed to wrap around your upper legs if you feel additional resistance is needed.
3. Bedside Squats
This exercise is great for your lower back, upper legs & glutes. Simply follow these steps:
- Stand about 5 inches from the side of the bed with your feet a shoulder-width apart
- From there, squat until your butt just barely touches the mattress, and then return to a standing position
- Do this for a set of up to 25 reps before moving on to the next exercise
Note: If needed, you can rest your hands on your quads and use them to aid in the sitting and standing process. Doing so will provide additional support as you build up strength in your legs. You can also temporarily sit on the bed for a moment before returning to standing as you build up strength in your legs.
4. Doorknob Squat
If you have a good strong door with a dependable doorknob, this exercise can be a great additional way to work those legs! Here are the steps:
- Open the door and stand facing its side with your legs shoulder-width apart
- Grab ahold of the doorknob on each side of the door with the appropriate hand
- Make sure that you can go into a squat that keeps your knees on your toes and with your back still straight as you go down
- Go down into a squat to where your thighs are parallel to the ground and then back into a standing position
- Repeat this motion for up to 20 reps
5. Calf Raises
This is a great way to work your calves, requiring no equipment. Here are some steps to doing this exercise:
- Stand upright, holding onto the frame of a doorway for support if needed for stability, feet placed firmly on the ground a shoulder-width apart
- Push the heels of your feet upward, keeping your toes and balls of your feet on the ground so that you feel your calves tense up
- Then lower your feet back to almost flat on the ground
- Repeat this motion for up to 30 reps
6. Counter or Chair Pushups
Pushups are a great way to work out your chest and biceps that can be done in various ways to build strength. Here are some steps to getting started in this exercise:
- Walk up to a counter or a chair that can serve as a stable surface area for your hands
- Place your hands on the counter or chair and lean into them, keeping your body straight
- Go into a pushup at a steady pace and then push back out to the starting position
- This exercise can be done for up to 25 reps
Note: As you build up strength, you can move into standard pushups over time.
7. Tricep Pushups
Now that you’ve done standard pushups to target the chest, it’s time to move into various pushups that target your triceps. This helps to tighten up your arms and give them good shape. Here are the steps:
- Get on your hands and knees with your feet crossed over each other in the air so that the top of one is rested against the back of the ankle on the other
- Your arms should be shoulder-width apart directly under the shoulders
- Go down into a pushup with your hands almost touching your shoulders as you bring your chest to the ground
- Push back up into an upright position
- Repeat this for up to 20 reps
8. Towel Curls
To really focus on those biceps, you can always grab a towel to help you out. Here are the steps:
- Create a sling with a towel and hook it under one of your feet (this can be done in a standing or lying position)
- Keeping your knee slightly bent, keep your hands grasped around the ends of the towel
- Curl your arms while using your leg to provide the desired resistance
- Pause briefly at the top of the motion before extending your arms again
- Repeat this for up to 20 reps
Note: Your upper arms should not move out of position during this exercise. Focus on bringing your hands (palms facing your chest) toward your shoulders.
You can change this up into hammer curls by bringing your hands toward your shoulders with thumbs facing your chest and palms facing each other.
Now it’s time to work on your core and overall body strength. Here are the steps:
- On a yoga mat or comfortable carpet, lay on your stomach
- Place your elbows below your shoulder at a shoulder width apart. Place your hands out with the palms facing down into the ground.
- Keep your feet close to or directly touching each other, and lift yourself onto your toes, hands, and elbows.
- Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
Are the at-home bodyweight exercises that you enjoy doing and find effective? If so, share them in the comments below.
Building Healthy Lifestyle Habits
You must find types of exercise you truly enjoy. This may take a while. No exercise routine will pay off if you quit because you’re not having fun, which is why even something as simple as walking can have significant effects if the patient does it regularly for years to come.
Following bariatric surgery, exercise is just as important as eating fewer calories. Working out regularly will help you keep the weight off and build valuable muscle. It will also restore your sense of coordination, improve your physical health, and provide you with your desired weight loss and fitness goals.