Exercise after Weight Loss Surgery

When it comes to exercise after weight loss surgery, the first rule of thumb is: start slow. You didn’t gain all the excess weight overnight, and you won’t lose it overnight, either. Fortunately, with bariatric surgery, you will lose more weight more quickly than you could with fad diets or sheer willpower. And, by adding exercise to the mix, not only will the pounds melt off faster, but you’ll improve your heart health and increase your overall energy.

Exercise after Weight Loss SurgeryOf course, if you have struggled with your weight most of your life, the whole concept of physical fitness may be a major turn-off. But, if you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, moderate exercise must become a way of life. In addition to speeding your metabolism by creating healthy muscle tone, exercise helps improve your circulation and blood sugar levels.

Some people embrace exercise joyfully, while others are hesitant to put their bodies in motion. Whether or not exercise is exciting, fulfilling or fun, it is necessary to stay healthy—no exceptions. Weight loss surgery is just a tool, and you can use that tool most skillfully when making exercise a part of your daily routine.

Small Steps to Success
Walking is one of the easiest ways to start an exercise routine. Your doctor or nurse will probably want you to get up and walk around within hours after your weight loss surgery to reduce the chance of clots and speed your recovery.

Talk with your surgeon about when you can begin a walking regimen once you’re at home. As soon as you get the green light, it’s time to get moving. The walks don’t need to be long when you’re first starting out, and there’s no need yet to “pump” your arms or speed walk. Just a short stroll is enough at first–even doing short laps around the house can help you get in the swing of things. Then, make your walk a little longer each day—either in distance or duration.

How Far, How Long?
At first, the distance and the amount of time you spend walking may not seem like “exercise” to those who haven’t been obese. While you’re beaming with pride for having made it once around the block, others are baffled at the short stretch. Don’t worry about what anyone except your doctor says. You can even ask your doctor to set your first fitness goal, since he or she knows your body best. An early milestone may simply be walking to the mailbox, walking a quarter of a mile, walking for five minutes or walking for 15 minutes.

Some patients will find that if they plan to walk for a certain length of time, they “cheat” and go at a slower than usual pace—but if they elect to walk a particular distance, then they keep a good pace. Others respond quite differently—they’ll take an hour to walk a distance they could have covered in 30 minutes—but if they set a goal to walk a for “x” number of minutes they are able to keep meeting their goals. Whichever system you use, just make sure you keep adding a little more to your fitness routine each day.

To Thine Own Self Be True
Although some post-op patients revel in creating new contours by lifting weights or running marathons, and they are exhilarated by their new freedom of movement, not everyone is enamored of exercise after weight loss surgery. You can boost your motivation and improve your chances of sticking with a fitness program by finding something that’s fun for you.

Don’t like the gym? Take a walk in the park. Knees hurt? Try a recumbent bike. Love winter weather? Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating are all great for your heart!

There are almost as many kinds of exercise as there are personalities. From yoga and Tai Chi to swimming, cycling, rock climbing, swing dancing, hula hooping, tennis, basketball, badminton or bowling, you’re sure to stumble across some form of physical activity that gets you inspired.

Finding a buddy with whom you can break a sweat will also help you stay on track. You can encourage each other on your continued success, and hold each other accountable on days you’d rather not work out. Remember, cheating only cheats you out of fitness and health.

Final Thoughts
Just like your new lifestyle involves eating smaller portions and sticking with low fat foods, you need to make physical activity a part of your daily routine for weight loss surgery success. And remember, weight loss surgery isn’t about getting skinny, it’s about getting healthy. Ultimately your goal is not just to look better, but also to live longer.

So, when it comes to exercise after weight loss surgery, be mindful of one simple rule: Get moving!

12 Responses

  1. Pam

    I found water aeorbic and love it. It is low impact for my bad knees, but you really get a workout. Try it you’ll love it.

  2. Michelle

    Good article!
    I’m almost 2 months post-op and have lost 51 pounds…now I feel well enough to start a regular exercise regime!
    I’ll start SLOW, though…my body’s not used to working out!

  3. Nicole

    Michelle I am thinking about getting the band…I have pcos and I am having a hard time getting my weight off. What do you mean by “now you feel well enough to exercise”. For the past two months did you feel really bad? How long did it take you to get back on your feet after you had it done? I hope to hear from you 🙂

  4. Ellen

    My GSD is 12/22. I am anxious to get started but feel daunted because I haven’t been able to exercise. I am not able to walk for long. I am hoping it won’t be too late after the surgery. I know how important it is. There is no one around to encourage me.

  5. anthony

    I had the lap band two years ago this April. I started my weight loss will be 3 years this September. From 328 to 197 pounds. With out exercise i would not be where i am at! I go to Golds gym 4 days a week with 3-4 spin classes and weight training. I have done bike tours of 35 miles, 42 and 70 miles. I am signed up for 75 and 100 miles. My first exercise for the first year was just walking everyday!

  6. Yely

    So It’s been 1 year since I had my GBS I have lost 150lbs but I have been lazy and have not done any real exercis. But it’s time to start I have been walking 32min a day every day and zumba for wii 20 min a day 4 times a week it’s fun. To those people that want to know for me the surgery was not painful I was in pain the 1st 2 days then just sour by the 4th day I was off the pain meds. If I had to do the surgery aging I will do it. I FEEL THE BEST I HAD IN ALL MY LIFE.

  7. Dee

    Does this site ever get updated????…Anyhow…My surgery was 3/1/2010..(today is 4/14/12..Im two yrs out..My first year I didnt exercise much. I had to learn & teach myself about FOOD. I had to get a grip on my relationship with it, which I never had before. I had to learn how to become friends with it. Not to ‘regret’ it. I learn all about food and its properties, and what it was doing to by body. I learn what ‘super-foods’ were. I had to teach myself to eat breakfast. I had to be very selfish my first year out. My family was taken aback at first, but now their on board and happy, we ALL eat well, even my husband!..now that I have that knowledge and am comfortable with it, food and I are friends. Now I have started to concentrate on my exercise regime. I have been doing cardio and strength training. I went from 235 lbs to a healthy 115 lbs. (Im 5′ 3″) and actually have muscles..lol

  8. Dee

    P.S…I forgot to say this..before surgery, my doctor and I made sure I had a Dietician, nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and a life coach in place. I promise you, without those wonderful people I could NOT have gotten through this alone. At every turn they were there for me and all my questions, fears and concerns. Im part of a wls support group in my community. Its all connected and very relative. WLS is a rollercoast of emotions, fear being my worst obstacle. They were and are very important to how successful I have become and will continue to be. They have taught me so much!

  9. Micki

    I had my surgery on Sept 5, 2012 and I as of today I have lost 28 lbs so far. I weighed myself yesterday and I am still in the same spot. I am not a motivated to exercise or walk for that matter. I’m struggling with eating the right foods. My surgery was gastric sleeve. I need encouragement…..

  10. Jennifer

    I had my surgery on Sept 27, 2012 and as of Oct 8, 2012 I have lost 25 lbs. I had the gastric sleeve surgery. I find it hard to motivate myself to exercise but when I decided to do this surgery I also decided I would do what is necessary to lose the weight. I do manage to walk every day. I have a lot of great people cheering me on between family and friends.

  11. Jeanette

    I weight 269 and I don’t have the money and I have to pay $3,000,but i want this surgery because i been over weight all my life

  12. Vanessa

    Hi Jeanette,

    I weigh the exact amount and I so badly want the surgery. I have no insurance and I am unemployed so I don’t have the money. I have lost 42 pounds on my own but its such a horrible journey. The ups and downs on the scale drive me crazy. I wish there was a way for me to have the surgery. I want to become a productive citizen again.