Do you have questions about the importance of exercise after weight loss surgery? Bariatric surgery in itself, is a powerful tool for weight loss, however it is not the be-all and end-all for long-term success.
Can you Lose Weight after Bariatric Surgery without Exercising?
Maintaining your weight loss will require commitments to not only a healthy balanced diet, but also regular physical activity.
Physical activity (PA) can be incidental and non-incidental.
What is Incidental Physical Activity?
Incidental PA refers to being a by-product of normal day-to-day activities. This includes taking the stairs, gardening, walking around in a shopping centre, cleaning the house and doing the laundry. Incidental exercise may occur in small but frequent periods and can accumulate over the day.
What is Non-incidental Physical Activity?
Non-incidental PA refers to structured intentional exercise. This includes swimming, running, cycling, yoga, Pilates, engaging in a team sport or going to the gym.
Benefits of Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery
- Improves cardiovascular health and stamina
- Preserves lean muscle mass and muscle strength, together with adequate protein intake
- Promotes bone health and bone mineral density
- Reduces risk of obesity related co-morbidities such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and high cholesterol
- Accelerates weight loss and more importantly, helps keep the weight off
When Should I Start Exercising?
For the first 6 weeks (during the healing phase), light exercise such as slow walking is allowed.
If you start to experience some left side abdominal pain, what feels like stitch pain, take it slow and rest. This is usually an indication that you may have been overly active.
After 6-8 weeks, slowly increase the intensity of your exercise. Your strength may have reduced during the healing phase, so start small and gradually increase overtime.
A combination of aerobic (walking, biking, swimming) and strength training (lifting weights or Pilates) is ideal.
Remember to stay hydrated and warm up and cool down for 5-10 minutes before and after your workout. This will help to slowly bring down your heart rate and breathing in order to prevent dizziness.
Although it is possible to lose weight after bariatric surgery without intentional exercise, for long-term success, we highly recommended that you start exercising as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to try new activities/sports, so you find something you actually enjoy and are able to continue with it long-term!
If you are still unsure where and how to get started, get in touch with your local Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist. For recommendations to Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapists, please contact our dietitian team on (07) 3871 2277.