How Much Should I Exercise After Bariatric Surgery?
You’ve done it! You had bariatric surgery! Now what? You’ll find detailed instructions for diet and the different stages of what to eat and when. But that’s only half of the battle! The other half (and just as important) is exercise. But how do you go about it? What kinds of activities should you do? How much and how often? Read on to find some helpful tips to build a routine that works!
Exercise is vital to long-term success for bariatric patients. In the simplest terms, weight loss occurs when we are “spending” more calories than we’re taking in. When that happens, our bodies must burn fat to compensate for the extra energy needed. The more calories you burn in exercise, the more effectively you lose weight!
The other benefit of exercise is building muscle. The most obvious benefit is that having a good amount of muscle will give you better strength and endurance for life. You won’t tire as quickly. You’ll be more independent and energetic. But there are other benefits of adding muscle that may surprise you! The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. That means your body is better at burning calories, even when resting! Building muscle can improve balance, reduce the risk of falls, and even take pressure off your joints.
So, How Do You Get Started?
Ideally, it would help if you began your exercise habits before surgery. That will help prepare your body for the work of healing. If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! It’s never too late. You’ll likely find that the post-op surgical staff will want to get you up and walk as soon as possible. That’s because getting up and moving is vital to successful healing and avoiding complications. Be sure to keep up that habit of walking in the weeks after surgery. Even if it’s only 10 minutes at first, walk as much as possible. Try to increase the time and distance each day.
After about a month, you should be cleared to do regular physical exercises. Try to incorporate cardio exercises that are easy on your joints. Those joints have borne the burden of excess weight for a long time, so they will need time to strengthen. If you prefer to exercise with others, find a class nearby to join! If you work out alone, find some videos to try at home. Start slow, maybe 15 minutes at a time. As you can tolerate more, try to go longer.
As you lose weight, you will eventually find that it takes much longer and more intense exercise to burn the same number of calories! Congrats! Although it can be a bit annoying, you’re getting healthier! Take the challenge in stride and turn things up. Try HIIT, TABATA or running. Those exercises can turn up the burn!
Over time, you will likely find specific workout types, videos, classes, or trainers that you like. Stick with what you enjoy because you’ll be more likely to keep doing it. You’ll also be more successful if you have specific workout times scheduled for your week. Consistency is vital in keeping that calorie burn going and creating a new lifelong habit. You got this!