Author: Dr. Maryam Amini
If you’ve undergone weight loss surgery you have already made a huge step towards becoming a healthier person. With guidance from your surgeon, you probably have an idea food-wise of what changes you need to make and with a smaller stomach the pounds are dropping off. To maintain your progress, achieve your optimal weight, and be a healthier person, exercise is key. Weight loss surgery alone is not enough to make your heart or body as healthy and strong as it can be. Exercise can help with improving body composition, improving metabolic health and bridging you to a healthier state.
What is the role of Exercise?
Obesity is related to many medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and more. Weight loss may help alleviate symptoms of obesity-related conditions, slow their progression or even reverse them. Many of these diseases such as type 2 diabetes or elevated cholesterol can be treated with weight loss and exercise. Weight loss is also known to help lessen the pain associated with arthritis.
Exercise helps with increasing energy expenditure as well. One of the problems during a weight loss journey is that the body's metabolism rate slows down. Shortly after start dieting, the body starts to conserve energy more efficiently and decrease energy expenditure. Unfortunately, this will result in slower weight loss. Exercise helps combat this effect.
Your Exercise Plan Immediately After Surgery
In the weeks following surgery, you should take it easy and focus on simple, low-impact exercises like:
- Walking (5-10 minutes at a time, two or three times per day)
- Preparing your own meals
- Sitting up and dangling your feet off the side of your bed
- Simple in-bed arm exercises, like moving your arms in circles
DO NOT lift heavy objects or jump into high-impact exercise. Your body is still recovering and this can cause harm.
Your Plan 1-2 Months After Surgery
At 1-2 months after surgery you should begin to add medium-impact exercise, including light cardio and strength training to your routine. Some exercises you might consider include:
- Brisk walking
- Leg lifts
- Resistance work
- Arm curls
- Wall push-ups
Your Long-Term Plan
At the very least, you should seek to workout 150 minutes per week. You can build up to this goal. According to experts at Harvard, to maintain your weight, or lose weight, most people need about an hour a day of exercise, especially those with sedentary lifestyles or jobs that are not physically demanding.
Plan your workout routine to include different types of exercise. When choosing exercise you should pay attention to frequency, intensity, time spent in activity and its type. Enjoyment of the type of the activity is an important factor as well.
Activities that build strength are just as important as those that get your heart pumping. Strong shoulders, backs, knees and arms can help prevent injuries and improve your overall endurance.
Additionally, while cardio can decrease your risk of developing obesity-related diseases, so can less strenuous activities like yoga. In fact, yoga can help with blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as stress. And lower levels of stress are good for the heart. So mix it up and make sure you’re participating in a variety of activities like yoga, water aerobics and strength training for a combined total of at least 150 minutes a week. This will reduce your risk of obesity-related diseases and help you stay on track to meet your goals.