August 2022
Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

How Does Exercise Play a Role After Bariatric Surgery?

Older woman on a treadmill assisted by an expert

Physical activity is one of the most important factors which predict sustainable change, desired outcomes and improved health status for individuals who have undergone a Bariatric procedure.

How "hard" should I push myself?

If it isn't making you work – It isn't working! It would help if you pushed yourself to feel your body working doing whichever activity you choose - walking briskly, lifting weights, or swimming. It's not going to be comfortable, but you should feel energized and accomplished at the end!

When things get easy – it's good news that you are stronger and fitter than you were – but to keep gaining strength and fitness, you need to up the workload at this stage. A general rule is to increase your workload by 10% each week.

For example:
Say you begin a 5k (3.1 miles) walking routine. 

Each week you would either integrate a challenge such as walking uphill or adding ⅓ of a mile to your total distance. This method prevents your body from a weight loss plateau. Your body will keep changing only if you keep challenging it.

Post-Surgery Exercise Tips

Before starting any physical routine, consult your physician or work with a personal trainer to prevent any injuries.

1. Gastric Bypass patients can begin strength training exercises 120 days after surgery. This ensures proper healing.

2. Abdominal and lower back regions are typically not recommended until at least six months after surgery.

3. It is recommended for patients to wait for approximately one-year post-surgery to do any high-intensity resistance training (HIIT) workouts. However - they are highly effective at burning calories!

Okay, but it still hurts. So, why is exercise important?

After your operation, consistent physical activity is paramount in kick-starting healthy habits and goal setting. Personalized exercise routines will ensure safety and effectiveness in helping you progress towards your individual goals.

Benefits of exercise:
1. Improves Muscle Strength and Toning
2. Increases Metabolic Rate
3. Improves Bone Mineral Density
 4. Improves Sleep

5. Reduces Joint Pain
6. Improves Mood
7. Increases Energy
8. Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease

The Effects of Exercise on Mental Health

Utilizing exercise to create a new goal will challenge you physically. When you achieve these goals, the sense of accomplishment propels you to set even higher goals.
Growth is a direct result of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. 

Exercising in groups or taking a class allows you to socialize with others with whom you already have a common interest. You can also have an accountability buddy to stay motivated and consistent with your goals.

Exercise helps to regulate your mood, even if there are external factors that would normally cause a negative change.

While you may not feel comfortable in your skin when you begin your weight loss journey, as you get into an exercise routine and see your body change, it's much easier to be more accepting of your physique.

Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that decrease anxiety.

By exercising, you develop environmental mastery, which makes you feel you are in charge of the situations in which you live.

Exercise has been shown to have several positive effects on a person's cognitive functioning.

Exercising 3 to 5 times per week significantly reduces depression compared to once a week.

Exercise helps to improve your body image and therefore improves your attitude..

Losing weight is challenging and takes an intentional commitment. But living with obesity is harder.
After Bariatric Surgery, diet and exercise are crucial in helping you lose weight, keep it off, and reclaim your health.
You can do this with commitment and dedication because you deserve the better life waiting for you.
We believe in you and will be with you every step of the way.

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