Weight Loss Surgery Patients Benefit from Rigorous Exercise

Weight loss surgery patients often lose a pound a day after their procedure and may be disinclined to exercise as a result. But rigorous exercise can promote faster weight loss and significantly improve quality of life, a new study shows.

Pre- and post-operative bariatric patients may be tempted to refrain from exercise after weight loss surgery as they watch the number on the scale inch lower every day. Since the surgery itself restricts the amount you can eat—and therefore the amount of calories you take in—exercise may seem unnecessary for promoting weight loss. But, according to a new study released in the medical journal Obesity, rigorous exercise is good for post-bariatric surgery patients and can actually help them achieve their weight loss goals more quickly, among other benefits.

Exercise Improves Quality of Life
The study was performed on 33 adult bariatric patients at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, all of whom had BMIs averaging 41. Twenty-one participants were assigned to a 12-week exercise course burning 500 calories a week at first, increasing to 2,000 calories by the end of the study. The 12-member control group did not follow an exercise program. Both groups followed a strict diet that post-weight loss surgery patients must observe.

By the end of the study, more than 80 percent of the people in the exercise group were burning 1,500 calories per week or more through exercise, and all had increased the amount of steps they took each day from 4,500 to 10,000. The exercise group also improved their cardiovascular rate by 10 percent.

Although both groups lost the same amount of weight—10 pounds—the exercise group saw greater improvements in other areas of their lives. They scored higher on key quality of life scores, such as level of energy, self-esteem, and physical function, than those who were part of the control group.

Intense Workouts Get Green Light
According to Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, who headed the study, the implication of this study for post-bariatric patients is simple: “We didn’t know until now whether morbidly obese bariatric surgery patients could physically meet this goal.” Dr. Garg added, “Our study shows that most bariatric surgery patients can perform large amounts of exercise and improve their physical fitness levels.”

Although it is a good idea to hold off on physical activity during the recuperation period, you need to make exercise a routine part of your life after your body has healed from the surgery, experts say. Previous studies have shown that weight loss surgery patients who stick to the diet recommended by their bariatric surgeon and exercise regularly attain their weight loss goals faster. If you are a candidate for bariatric surgery, you should talk to your surgeon prior to your procedure about what kind of physical regimen and diet plan you should follow after surgery. These lifestyle changes will also allow you to increase your muscle tone, which will improve your physical appearance as well as your strength after the surgery.

If you are unsure how to get started on an exercise regimen, consider making an appointment with a physical trainer who is well-versed in how to help post-bariatric surgery patients reach a healthy weight and improve their overall fitness. You may also find it helpful to join a support group with other patients in your area who have undergone surgical weight loss. The support you get from a trainer as well as a support group can help you feel empowered to reach your goals.

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