A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise After Bariatric Surgery
by Brenda Hoehn on Jul 14, 2023
A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise After Bariatric Surgery
Even after weight loss surgery, it’s vital to put in the effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Being physically active comes with many benefits. In addition to keeping off the weight, you can enhance your flexibility, improve blood circulation, increase your metabolic rate, promote strong bones, strengthen the heart, and tone muscles. What’s more, the production of endorphins helps you feel happier.
For help getting on the road to recovery and building a healthy post-op lifestyle, we created this beginner’s guide to exercise after bariatric surgery!
When Can I Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?
You can start exercising right away! Short walks are perfect right after surgery. Talk with your surgeon about being medically released to do increased aerobic activity, like low-impact sports and weight lifting. After being released, you can work your way up to 150 minutes of exercise a week. One way to approach this is 30 minutes a day for 5 days.
Also, listen to your body. If an activity feels uncomfortable, then stop, and consider trying again a few days later.
Best Exercises After Bariatric Surgery
As you’re recovering from major surgery, keep in mind that you won’t be able to do all types of exercises right away. Start slow, set realistic goals, and build an exercise routine; the best exercise routine is one you enjoy and can keep doing. Incorporate strength and cardio exercises, and work on increasing your flexibility.
Here’s a list of the best low-impact exercises to do post-surgery!
Walks and Jogs
To start, walk around the rooms in your house. If you want to go outside, stroll down the driveway and back. Slowly over time, you can work your way up to longer walks.
As you walk around the neighborhood, set goals for yourself. Walk to the next mailbox, then to the parked car down the street, and then to the corner. If your knees are ok, you can go into a jog.
Gradually, your body will get stronger.
No matter your fitness level, practicing yoga is a great workout. It’s light enough for beginners or people who have mobility or joint issues. In addition to a good stretch, people who engage in yoga can enjoy better breathing habits and improved muscle tone.
Chair yoga is an adapted yoga practice in which movements are made from a seated position, allowing anyone to enjoy the benefits of yoga. ProCare Health invited Yoga Instructor Connie Stapleton, Ph. D., to their podcast to share exercises with the bariatric community. Watch and follow along to the videos listed below!
- BariYoga with Dr. Connie Stapleton: Chair Yoga Part 1
- BariYoga with Dr. Connie Stapleton: Chair Yoga Part 2
- BariYoga with Dr. Connie Stapleton: Yoga for Back Pain
Pilates, developed in the 1920s, continues to grow in popularity. Both Pilates and yoga are mat exercises that have flowing movements and controlled breathing. They also increase your flexibility and strength. Yet, there is a key difference.
In practicing yoga, people typically adopt a position and hold it or flow into a different position. With Pilates, people adopt a position and then challenge their core by moving their arms or legs.
So, get ready to pull out your floor mat and do a series of movements that stabilize and strengthen your core! What’s more, this full-body workout can be targeted to focus on certain muscles while resting others.
You may have knee trouble due to previous weight. If so, cycling is a great option for exercising without placing too much stress on the knees.
Try cycling indoors on a recumbent bike, an exercise bike with a reclined seating position. This bike offers full back support, and the larger seat is more comfortable than smaller bike seats. Alternatively, you can get a bike and ride outdoors.
To make it more fun, put on your favorite music or podcast as you pedal at home or down the block. The Bari Connected podcast hosted by Brenda Hoehn gives actionable ideas that help you improve your health and wellness. Experts active in the bariatric community are interviewed on a range of topics. Listen to the podcast on your favorite listening platform to hear advice on mindset, exercise, nutrition, and more!
Swimming is a great way to burn calories. It’s a full-body workout that engages almost every major muscle group, as people need to use their arms, legs, torso, and stomach to swim. This activity also increases the heart rate without putting too much stress on the body.
So, you may be wondering how soon you can swim after bariatric surgery. Check with your surgeon to find out. Generally, patients should wait 3 weeks before swimming. If you have any open wounds or condition that delays healing or increases the risk of infection, wait longer.
You can do a mixture of the four basic strokes, which are the front crawl (freestyle), backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Plus, there are water aerobics classes you can join!
Cardio is not the only way to keep the weight off. Strength training will improve your posture, tone your body, and help your body burn calories efficiently. As with any exercise, it’s important to start slow and gradually increase your weight and reps.
Here are a few exercises to get you started!
For the upper body, consider a routine that includes:
- chest flies,
- chest presses,
- lateral and frontal raises,
- light curls,
- modified pushups,
- and overhead triceps extensions.
For the lower body, consider:
- calf raises,
- glute bridges,
- jumping jacks,
- and wall-sits.
Stay Focused on Your Goals With ProCare Health
At ProCare Health, we care about your journey and want you to be successful. After weight loss surgery, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes, and exercise is just one factor. That’s why our bariatric multivitamins are formulated with the specific needs of weight loss patients in mind.
Our Once Daily Bariatric Multivitamin | Capsule delivers 22 essential nutrients and is gluten-free, lactose-free, and easy to swallow. The vegetable-based capsule is also fast dissolving, so having less stomach acid is not a problem.
For a chewy alternative, try our Once Daily Bariatric Multivitamin | Chewable soft, easy-to-chew tablets, available in fruit punch or citrus flavors.