Exercise after bariatric surgery is one of the top three components to weight loss success.
In fact, exercise should begin immediately after returning home from surgery.
Most patients will have to ease into exercising after weight loss surgery. Even just starting by walking a few minutes a day is a great way to get into healthy exercise habits.
Remember – exercise does not mean only running. It means to be physically active.
Types of Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery
Whether that’s dancing, walking, weights, or yoga, there are hundreds of different exercises that patients can incorporate into their daily routine.
- Light Exercise: Walking or elliptical
- Weights: Free weights, lifting, yoga
- Interval Training: Crossfit, personal trainers, boot camp
How Beneficial is Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?
Well, it’s HUGE! But why?
- Not only do studies suggest that exercise after bariatric surgery will increase your weight loss, but it will also help to assuage depression and lift your mood.
- Studies also show that exercise also helps the healing process and helps to minimize post-bariatric surgery complications.
Some patients may be required to undergo a mild exercise regimen before bariatric surgery. Exercise prior to surgery will help patients become qualified candidates. In some cases, bariatric surgeons require a full year of mild exercise before the surgery date.
Simple tasks could be necessary for morbidly obese patients before weight loss surgery:
- Walking (Walk for 10 to 20 minutes per day)
Immediately following bariatric surgery (gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, or mini-gastric bypass) during your healing and recovery process, patients are at increased risks of complications. Most surgeons recommend that patients begin a lite exercise regimen after two or three weeks of your surgery date.
1 Month to 6 Months Post-Op – Exercises You Should Do
Starting the regimen, most doctors will tell patients to start slowly. Most recommend simple exercises including walking in the very beginning.
Exercise During the First 1 to 2 Months After Surgery
Unless your surgeon says otherwise, the only type of exercise you should be doing during the first two months following your bariatric surgery is walking. As your body is still weak and adapting to this major change, it’s important that you not push yourself. Take it slow at first. Try walking 10 minutes at a time. You can always do it again later in the day if you feel like more.
Although you are recovering, you should be walking right away. Indeed, your surgeon may tell you to start walking regularly the day you come home from surgery or within a few days. Walking increases blood flow around your body which helps you heal, and decreases the risk of complications from surgery.
The only other exercise that may be acceptable is water aerobics because of how low-impact it is. Even with this option, it’s important you stop once you feel that your body is being pushed too far, and talk to your surgeon to see if the water may interact with recovery. Speaking of water, remember to always stay hydrated and constantly drink throughout the day. The minimum requirements are typically 64 oz. of water daily for bariatric patients.
During these first three months, abdominal exercises must be completely 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 second month, some patients begin feeling more comfortable and want to start lifting weights or jogging. But it is recommended that you first discuss this with your surgeon or your doctor, to ensure that your body is ready.
It’s important to remember that your sense of balance and coordination may be in flux. You’ve lost a lot of weight in a very short amount of time. If you haven’t been walking a lot already, don’t begin jogging or sign up for an aerobics class simply because it’s been three months. Get used to how it feels.
But right around the end of the 3 rd month, you should be able to start picking up your exercise routine and do both aerobic (running) and anaerobic (muscle) workouts.
Exercise During Months 4 to 6 Post-Op
Starting out at one to two days per week and increasing from there is a good step. The patient’s goals should be to work to 30-minute exercises for three to five days a week.
Yoga can help patients increase flexibility, tone body, improve metabolism, and circulate blood flow which improves healing and long-term weight loss.
Walking is a good place to start, and patients can increase to “speed walking,” in the later months. It’s something everyone can do 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 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.
5. Resistance Training
Resistance Training using light weights contribute 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
Building Healthy Lifestyle Habits
It’s important that you find types of exercise you truly enjoy. This may take a while. No exercise routine is going to 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 on a regular basis 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 the weight loss and fitness goals you wanted.
6 Months to 12 Months Post-Op – Exercises You Should Do
After six months, you should be able to endure 45-minute exercise sessions 3 to 5 times per week. This stage will be spent investing more time with resistance training, helping to increase your core muscles (abdominal, lower back, upper back), your leg muscles, and upper-body muscles.
Patients should feel free to try more challenging exercises. Patients can include workouts like kickboxing or aerobics in their repertoire.
1 Year and Beyond – Exercises You Should Do
Making the past one year deserves a big congratulation! 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.
Now that you’re halfway there, it’s time to try more intense exercises to keep the fat coming off.
- Interval training on the treadmill: walking then running, or walking than jogging, and doing it in varying intervals will keep increasing your metabolic rate to burn more fat.
- Incorporate more activity-based exercises into their routine: Hiking, running, swimming, biking are all novel ways that will help you to continue to your weight loss goals.
How to Easily Get in an Exercise Routine
Exercise is essential to maintain long-term weight loss. That being said, it needs to become habitual and some sort of routine should be followed.
Create a steady exercise routine to build a strong heart and bones. Make sure you consume enough calories to support your exercise. Build muscle by exercising on a regular basis.
Keep in mind, the purpose of physical activity is to increase your heart rate, so cultivating does not check..1
- 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 a walk or to the park
- Find clothes you feel good in
Exercises to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is considered one of the best ways to lose weight when diet and exercise have failed. But 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 in order 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. For the first day, most patients will have a hard time even consuming ice and water. Eventually, they can move onto 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 types of 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, it can be difficult to know just where to start in terms of exercise. It is important not to overdo it when first getting started on being physically active in order 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 be 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 that you do on such a regular basis? Here are 9 great exercises that you can do at home, possibly with no equipment, that will help to improve your overall health and well-being.
1. Bedside Crunches
This exercise is quite simple and 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 rested 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 onto the next exercise
Note: You can rest your hands on your quads and use them to aid in the sitting and standing process if needed. 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 going back into a standing position 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 serve as a great additional way to work those legs! Here are the steps:
- Open the door and stand facing its side with your legs a 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 that also requires 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 being 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 a variety of ways to build up 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 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 a variation of pushups that targets your triceps. This helps to tighten up your arms and give them a 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 a 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 upright position
- Repeat this for up to 20 reps
8. Towel Curls
To really focus in 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.