Weight loss surgeries like the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass can help you lose anywhere from 40%, 60%, or more of your excess weight. For a person who is 100 pounds overweight, that amounts to an amazing weight loss of 40 to 60 pounds, and most of the weight comes off in the first year.
The loss of fat is not automatic, however. As a bariatric patient, you still must put in work. You must eat right and, yes, you must engage in some form of exercise.
Exercise – more commonly referred to as “Working Out” – has immense benefits for weight loss surgery patients. Not only will the weight come off more quickly, and more substantially, but there are a host of other benefits, too. Here are a few you may want to consider if you plan to schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgeon near you.
3 Benefits of Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery
1- More Significant Weight Loss
According to the National Institute of Health, bariatric surgery patients who exercised experienced a Body Mass Index (BMI) loss of 4.2% greater than those who didn’t. Exercising after weight loss surgery is critical. When the weight comes off rapidly, it tends to include muscle loss and fat loss. This is bad because muscle is what causes you to burn more calories at rest. Without added muscle, your metabolism may slow to a crawl, making it more difficult to shed those excess pounds.
Exercising helps you retain and even build muscle, which burns more fat, even while asleep. This is the healthiest way to lose weight.
2- Feel Better
Exercise gives you energy and helps you feel more alive. This may seem counterintuitive if exercise always leaves you feeling tired. Getting into a regular exercise routine and moving your body will become easier, however. Regular exercise can strengthen your bones and heart, boost your immune system, and regulate your blood sugar levels.
Even light-intensity exercises, like walking, can give you more energy and help you feel invigorated. Try walking in the morning before coffee to get a similar jolt, without the comedown. Exercising for energy is important for other reasons aside from waking up. Many bariatric patients say they want to do more with their lives after losing weight. They want to play with their grandkids, go on a 5k run, or go skydiving. Working out after surgery can help you achieve these goals with the energy to burn.
3- Improved Mental Health
Exercise produces endorphins in your brain that can help you combat anxiety and depression. Following bariatric surgery, you may find yourself coping with new emotions that are unfamiliar to you. You may receive extra attention from others, which can be overwhelming. Some may look down on you for taking the “easy way out,” even though bariatric surgery is anything but. Finding a support group can help alleviate these feelings, but exercise can also boost your mental health.
Exercising after weight loss surgery can help with the triple threat of mental illness: Anxiety, stress, and depression. Exercise is beneficial because it increases blood flow to the brain. The longer you move your body, the more you break your mind’s downward spiral into anxiety and depression. Working out can also improve your mood, boost your IQ, and prevent age-related decline.
What Exercises Are Best After Weight Loss Surgery?
Don’t expect to do very much immediately after bariatric surgery. You will be confined to bed rest for a day or so and relegated to light exercise from that point forward and for at least a couple of weeks.
Light exercise could mean walking around your home or even doing some light cleaning. Just be careful not to pull at the surgical site, which could cause complications. Walking is the best light exercise you can do. Start slowly, particularly if you’re unused to exercise, and gradually increase the number of steps and duration. A fitness watch can help you track how much you’re walking. You can compete with yourself each week to see how long you can go.
Once you feel up to it, your bariatric surgeon will recommend starting a regular exercise routine, giving you all the great benefits of working out. A routine could involve lifting light weights or engaging in bodyweight exercises like pushups and squats. Working out in a pool can help with mobility issues if you haven’t worked out in some time. Just remember, this is not a sprint. Working out after bariatric surgery is more like a marathon. It pays to go slow and steady.
How Long Should You Exercise for Each Day?
As a bariatric surgery patient, your surgeon may recommend that you strive for fifteen to thirty minutes per day of light to medium-intensity exercise. The more you heal, the longer you should try to exercise. You can make exercise more interesting by switching up your routine now and then. Hire a trainer, join a fitness class, or watch YouTube videos for inspiration to move your body in new and interesting ways.
Don’t Forget Warmups, Cooldowns, and Stretching
As you heal from surgery and progress with your exercise routine, always warm up first and cool down afterward. Doing so can help to prevent injuries. You will also keep your body limber.
During warmups and cooldowns, focus on slow movements and stretches to improve flexibility. Each warmup and cooldown session should last at least five minutes and, at most, ten minutes.
For warmups, jumping jacks will work, followed by toe bends, arm stretches, and side-to-side twists. Cooldowns can consist of slow walking or jogging in place or any movements that help your heartbeat slow to a considerable degree. Over time, you will become more agile, allowing you to do more exercises for longer periods.
Schedule a Consultation with a Bariatric Surgeon
If you have yet to undergo surgery, and all this talk about exercise following your procedure makes you nervous, the important thing is to keep an open mind. Scheduling a consultation with a bariatric surgeon can first determine if you are a good candidate for surgery. You can also learn which surgery might be right for you. Your surgeon can answer your questions and alleviate your concerns, particularly regarding exercising after your procedure.
You’ll learn more about the timeline for weight loss and what to expect in the weeks and months following surgery. Your surgeon will also advise you to visit with a dietician and exercise physiologist. These meetings can give you more ideas for working out and help you better visualize how you’ll thrive after surgery as the weight melts.
Start by contacting Healthy Life Bariatrics, the home of world-renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki. Dr. Moeinolmolki and his professional staff in Los Angeles, California, can help you achieve your health and body shape goals. Call (310)807-1735.