After Weight Loss Surgery

Easing Into Exercise After Bariatric Surgery

man and woman running together on road

If you’ve just had surgery to lose weight, why do you need to exercise?

You’ve signed up for a life-altering experience, but the surgery is just one piece of the puzzle. Consider it a “tool” to improve and accelerate your weight loss efforts, but it will not be the singular solution.

If you’re still asking why you need to exercise. Here are a few good reasons. By exercising you:

  • Develop lean muscle mass and strength.
  • Promote the stability of your joints and enhance bone strength.
  • Improve your skin’s elasticity and fill out your body, making excess skin less noticeable.
  • Help sustain long-term weight loss.

Knowing where to start after surgery is the easy part. Likely, you were aware losing weight would require exercise. The real challenge is determining where you should start. What is the best process and routine for getting yourself moving forward? There is no right or wrong way to approach it. Every person’s approach to fitness is unique. Everybody is different.

The best approach to take is to start with cardiovascular exercise. Considering most people who’ve had weight loss surgery previously lived a primarily sedentary lifestyle for an extended period, immediately following surgery, and even 4-6 weeks post-surgery, any movement, such as walking, will be beneficial.

Start with small goals. Work at sustaining a certain activity level, gradually increasing intensity and duration. New plans will naturally develop from this.

From Chad, One of Our SADI Patients:

I can tell you from my first-hand experience that your surgeon and the hospital staff taking care of you post-op will try to get you up and moving around as soon as possible. I was walking the morning after my surgery – and the only reason I didn’t the same day was that I was in recovery for about 5 hours and then, once I was moved to my room, dozed in and out of sleep for the next 12-15 hours. Of course, much of this was due to the lingering effects of the anesthesia.

Now, this effort by the medical staff is mainly to prevent blood clots, but it also sets the tone for this new journey you’ve embarked upon. And it is a guide for how to get your post-op progress underway.

Back to getting started…

Walking will be your go-to activity for the first six to eight weeks after surgery. Lifting heavy items is a no-no and could cause damage internally as your body heals. This takes any weightlifting out of play. But, after that month or two goes by, and you’ve been cleared by your surgeon, supplementing cardio activity with some form of resistance training is an ideal program. Also, swimming is not permitted until after your incisions have healed. Most patients need to wait two weeks before enjoying the water!

We’ve put together some helpful lists for you to get started on your fitness journey!

Types of Exercises You Can Perform

Virtually limitless possibilities fall under two primary categories – aerobic/cardiovascular and strength/resistance training. A few of these are:

  • Walking/Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics/Water Aerobics
  • Biking/Spinning
  • Rowing
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Lift weights with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells
  • Resistance band training
  • Bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pullups

You can do specific programs, too, like circuit training, interval training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), etc.

Proper Mindset, Goals, and Approach to Your Fitness

Strategies like this help keep you motivated, focused, and challenged. Small goals add up, so start simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself or get intimidated. Aim for 30 minutes, then progress to 45, 60, 90, or whatever you’re comfortable with. If you experience pain during the activity, slow down or stop and try again later, adjusting your effort level. Here are a few more tips to live by:

  • Turn your fitness into a habit with planning
  • Choose a variety, not always the same exercises
  • Know your limits
  • Get an exercise partner
  • Take group classes or join events.
  • Incorporate things you enjoy, such as music, audiobooks, or podcasts.
  • Importantly, work on your mind. Mental strength will determine how far you can take your fitness

Again, there are limitless possibilities if you expand your mind and comfort zone and do some research. After all, starting your weight loss journey busted you out of your comfort zone. So, get up. Get outside. Go to a park. Get in the pool. Get in the gym. Get your heart rate up. Get your body moving. Flex those muscles.

SEE your progress unfold. FEEL the rejuvenating effects of your hard work.

Just remember…this is not a race…it’s a journey.

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3 Mobile Infirmary Cir, Suite #212,
Mobile, AL 36607

Springhill Medical Center

3715 Dauphin St. Building 2 Suite 6D
Mobile, AL 36608