The short answer is “Yes”. Exercise is extremely important following weight loss surgery because you will be losing weight at a rapid pace. Your body will try to fight this weight loss by attempting to store fat for this perceived starvation. Your body does this by burning muscle mass and storing fat. This is undesirable. To combat this effect, it is important to exercise regularly so that your metabolism is increased and your body burns fat rather than muscle mass.
If you decide to have weight loss surgery, you should seize this opportunity after surgery and integrate activity/exercise into your daily routine. This will not only help you through any plateaus, it will help you build muscle, enhance your metabolism and overall energy, and greatly influence your overall success.
I encourage walking beginning the day of surgery to improve circulation. Early walking forces the heart to pump blood throughout the body and prevents it from pooling in your legs which could cause clots that are potentially life threatening. The more walking you can do, the better. We ask that you avoid lifting heavy weights or doing sit-ups/abdominal crunches until you are at least 4 weeks from your surgery. Prior to that time, you may ride an exercise bike, or swim (not until 2 weeks from your surgery). When you choose your particular exercise program, make sure it incorporates weight training along with some form of aerobic/cardiovascular exercise.
Most everyone knows the benefits of exercise – it’s just doing it that is difficult. We all can find excuses (not enough time, not enjoyable/boring, inconvenient, lack of resources, don’t know how, etc…). The bottom line is that you must make time for exercise and make it a priority. This is easy to say, but hard to do.
The benefits of exercise are many. Some of these benefits include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decreased stress level
- Reduced risk for development of heart disease
- Reduced risk for colon and other cancers
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Improved balance and independent living
- Improved digestion
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved flexibility
- Improved energy levels
- Improved sleep pattern
- Improved sexual satisfaction
- Improved overall quality of life
So you may logically understand the benefits of exercise. If you still choose not to exercise, you must ask yourself “why?” Determine your roadblocks to exercise and then identify solutions to the roadblock. Once you “get the fever” for exercise after doing some form on a regular basis, you will wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. If you choose weight loss surgery, you are making a life changing decision. Maximize the benefits of this decision and commit to a regular exercise program. You will not regret it. Your weight loss will be enhanced and your overall quality of life improved.
It does take time and effort to get started. In addition, after you have had surgery, you may have some feelings of fatigue for the first one to three months after surgery. Until you can begin a more vigorous exercise program (4 weeks after surgery), walk as much as possible. If you are unable to walk due to a health problem/disability, perform as much upper body exercise as you can tolerate using light weights (until 4 weeks after surgery). If you have cardiac/respiratory problems, be sure to obtain clearance for starting an exercise program from your primary care physician and/or specialist.
Choose a fitness program that will work for you. It should be tailored to your specific needs, abilities, preferences and activities that you will enjoy. Otherwise, you will be tempted to quit.
Remember that at the Center for Weight Loss Success, we love making fitness fun and specialize in starting wherever you are. We work privately with our patients and offer three personal training sessions as a part of their Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ program. Our certified trainers love working with clients at all levels of fitness. You can also participate in our Group Fitness classes as a part of your program. Remember, you are not alone. Please use these resources available with your experienced bariatric surgeon/center to enhance your weight loss and improve your overall health and metabolism.
When starting a workout program, take it easy. Be sure to gradually work up to at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three or more times a week. Stick to it and strive to make exercise a habit (usually considered a habit once performed regularly for at least three months)! You won’t see dramatic changes overnight but you will see dramatic changes over time.
When you exercise, be sure to warm-up prior to the activity and cool down/stretch after the activity. Do not lift too much weight (increase weight gradually), and remain hydrated – be sure to drink water before and after your workout.