How and when to exercise after weight-loss surgery.
You’ve had enough. Diet after diet, weight loss plan after plan, nothing seems to work. You want your life back so you’ve decided to undergo bariatric surgery. It hasn’t been an easy decision. You know your life will never be the same, but you’re hoping for a brighter future. You’re committed to making this work and there’s no turning back. Due to the surgery itself you’ll no longer be able to consume as many calories and you’ll have to watch what you eat. These two factors will lead to weight loss, but they’re only two pieces of the puzzle. For additional weight loss and overall physical and mental health, an active lifestyle is essential.
Here’s how to safely and effectively exercise after weight loss surgery.
Take It Slow
You’ve just had major surgery, so you’ll need to allow your body to heal for a few weeks before easing into exercise. Always follow your doctor’s orders regarding physical activity, but it’s generally recommended that you begin moving around a few minutes each day after surgery as your strength permits, to keep your blood flowing. This may mean walking a few minutes in the morning, noon, and evening; or doing leg lifts, arm rotations, or shoulder rolls.
After three to six weeks, it’s time to gradually add more exercise into your day. By slowly increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts, you’ll lessen the chance of soreness, fatigue, injury, or burnout. Keep in mind that your body is taking in fewer calories, making it difficult to endure any kind of strenuous activity for the first few months.
Once you start exercising, it’s important to include cardio, strength training, as well as flexibility exercises into your workout routine. Aim to work out at least 30 minutes most days of the week and always keep a water bottle nearby. A smaller stomach means you can’t absorb as much water and can easily become dehydrated, so drink often.
Also called endurance exercise, cardio burns calories, gets your heart rate pumping, and elevates your breathing. For those with a BMI over 35, low-impact exercises are key to protecting joints. This means no jumping or running. Cycling, walking, swimming, and water aerobics are good options, but the most important thing is that you find exercises you enjoy and start off gradually.
Three to four months after your procedure, it’s time to incorporate strength-training exercises into your workout routine at least once a week. This lengthy delay is especially important if your surgery was “open” rather than laparoscopic. Get clearance from your doctor before beginning any new exercises.
Great starter activities include lunges, squats, and exercises that use free weights or resistance bands. Your trainer can help make sure you use correct form to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
It’s easy to forget about stretching, but it serves an important place in fitness. With the ability to relieve low back pain, prevent soreness, improve coordination, reduce stress, boost energy, and increase blood flow to your muscles, you’d be smart to end each workout with a few minutes of flexibility exercises.
Develop a stretching routine with the help of your trainer and always remember to stretch until you feel a slight burn (never to the point of pain) and breath through your stretches.