Posted on 07/04/2014 at 12:00 AM by Todd Eibes, MD
Bariatric surgery helps patients with severe or morbid obesity lose weight and change their lives. But the surgery alone isn't enough. Exercise is a crucial component of your weight loss and bariatric care.
It will accelerate your weight loss and help you maintain that loss throughout your lifetime. Though many patients find it extremely difficult to exercise prior to surgery due to health conditions such as difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, knee or back pain, and heart conditions, after your surgery it is extremely important to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
It may seem a little overwhelming, but your team at the Iowa Weight Loss Specialists will help design an exercise regimen that is right for you. Remember that exercise isn’t necessarily restricted to going to a gym. There are many ways to get a good workout that can be enjoyable at the same time.
As you lose weight, regular exercise will improve your muscle mass and your overall health. Regular exercise can also decrease your blood pressure, increase your energy levels, and improve your cardiac health, depression, and your overall quality of life.
You should begin walking immediately after discharge from the hospital. The amount you are able to do will vary depending on your physical condition and your weight prior to the bariatric surgery. You should walk for short distances at least six times daily. This will significantly reduce your risk of developing a blood clot from the surgery.
You should walk slowly and not do any strenuous walking as you are adjusting to your new diet. Your goal is to prevent clots and help your lungs recover from surgery, not to burn a large amount of calories. Do not worry about distance or calories. Start slowly and gradually increase as you feel better from your surgery.
Remember to continue to drink water as you walk to prevent dehydration.
The emphasis at this stage is to make exercise a part of your daily life. You can continue to increase your distance as you feel better and are drinking better. Usually at 6 weeks after surgery, you can begin to increase intensity and add weight training as part of your exercise. Lifting some weights will strengthen your muscles. Your muscles burn calories and by working them, you will increase your basal metabolic rate (amount of calories you burn at rest).
Cardiovascular exercise is crucial to reaching your weight loss goals. Most of our patients have some difficulty with mobility and often have bad joints. It is important to find an activity that you can do to burn calories without hurting yourself. Swimming, elliptical training, and biking are great for many patients. There are numerous options such as Zumba, dance, yoga, and water aerobics. You need to find an activity that you can stick with and do 3-5 times each week for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Weight training is great for stimulating muscle growth. Today, there are many programs that combine cardiovascular exercise with various amounts of weights. CrossFit or Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping are a couple of options.
Personal training is also a great option as it is important not to hurt yourself by over lifting. Any activity you do to stimulate your muscles will help improve the amount of calories you burn at rest.
The sleeve gastrectomy bariatric surgery is a great tool to suppress appetite and limit portion sizes. When we look at all patients who have the surgery, the average weight loss at one year is around 60% of excess weight. There are many factors that limit exercise, but it is crucial to try to do at least some activity.
When we look at patients who commit to changing their lives by making exercise a routine part of their week, we see an average of 80-85% excess weight loss in this group.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to help boost your results with exercise, particularly once the surgery jump starts your weight loss efforts and gives you the ability to move again.
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