How Can Exercise and Bariatric Surgery Work Together?

How Can Exercise and Bariatric Surgery Work Together?

How Can Exercise and Surgery Work Together?

Post-operatively, exercise is always a good idea, especially if it’s tailored, fun and effective. If you’re thinking about having bariatric surgery such as a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, you may have heard that your weight “melts off,” especially in the early days. It is true, that for some people (not all) the anatomical restriction and then the metabolic changes which occur in the months following surgery can lead to rapid weight loss. So why do we recommend that you exercise?

exercise and bariatric surgery

We get it, for many of you, exercise might seem like the last thing you want to do. Risk of injury; embarrassment; lack of motivation or low fitness level can all make working out seem like a daunting task. So if you’re going to lose weight anyway, why would we recommend starting an exercise program? What benefit does exercising have for your weight loss surgery journey? In this article, written just in time for Exercise Right Week, we look at when, how and why exercise is crucial to your success in the months, and indeed years, after weight loss surgery.

First of all, when do I start exercising?

Weight loss surgery is major surgery, and we recommend you take it easy in the weeks following, in the same way, that you start gently with your diet. First up, you’ll want to take short walks. In the days after surgery, this will probably be around 10-15 minutes at a modest pace. You can increase this as you feel able to do so. Regular movement will help to get your blood flowing, reducing the risk of blood clots and encouraging normal bowel function. As the majority of bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically, you should be ready to hit the streets and start exercising in earnest, a couple of weeks after surgery. Check with your surgeon to be sure. Taking it easy, whilst still moving, is the aim of the game in the days after surgery.

gentle walking after surgery

Once your wounds have healed, and you get clearance from your surgeon, you can increase your level of movement at a rate to suit you. Incorporating plenty of incidental activity (activity in normal daily movement) is a great place to start.
You may also be able to incorporate gentle exercise like swimming activities or walking. Swimming is also great in the early days, because it alleviates the load on your joints, reducing the risk of injury while you exercise.

A tailored exercise program is best

One of the earliest appointments we’d like you to make before surgery (apart from seeing your Dietitian) is to book in with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Why? For prehab rather than rehab! Getting the right information to exercise safely and effectively is essential. A cookie-cutter exercise routine is futile in the early days. Sure, standard routines might be great for some (and one day you – we promise!) but to start with, you need expert help. Slogging it out at the gym trying to keep up with people half your age (and weight) is not the answer. Expecting to suddenly become Jamie-Lee Curtis (or Arnie) overnight is going to at best lead to disappointment. At worst, it could lead to injury.

Everybody is different. What an Exercise Physio has, is a unique way of determining what is going to work best for you and your body for right now. Taking into consideration all of those things that might have held you back in the past. They can identify and work with past injuries, anatomical structure, and your current weight and muscle tone. They also work with your own personal preferences when it comes to exercise style and even your own limiting ‘self-talk.’ Then, they can build you a personalised workout plan which ticks all the boxes for you.

Why should I bother?

“Come on, I’m losing weight anyway, do I really need it?” you ask. Yes, you may lose a lot of weight without even putting on your exercise shoes in the first 12 months after surgery. But you will also lose muscle and bone mass along with it. In fact in postmenopausal women, following weight loss surgery, there is a 7% chance of a long bone fracture due to osteoporosis/ osteopaenia. Being able to counter-balance that loss by incorporating weight-bearing exercise (also called resistance training) is a very good idea. It really is a case of “use it or lose it.” Increased muscle mass encourages a faster metabolic output so that you can burn more calories. Muscle tissue is the powerhouse of the body. And if you’re finding the weight is not ‘falling off’ for you, building that muscle is a great way to encourage weight loss.

If you have comorbidities, exercise is an even faster way to health. Exercise helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. As well, you can increase bone density and even support changes to your biomechanics and encourage joint stability. It also has a really positive effect on mood due to the release of endorphins when you exercise.

Thinking ahead to lasting weight loss

Most of all, exercising after weight loss surgery is about forming healthy habits which give you every chance at lasting weight loss and health. There is growing research into how exercise can support long-term health after bariatric surgery. In modern surgical practice, we recognise that adopting crucial healthy lifestyle changes can enhance bariatric surgery in distinct ways.

bike riding lifestyle changes for lasting weight loss

About Exercise Right Week 2020

Exercise Right Week is brought to you by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). This body accredits our wonderful Exercise Physiologists. This year’s theme is Movement is Medicine, and we encourage you to have a look at some of the ideas ESSA has for getting moving. Follow the hashtags #ExerciseRight2020 and #MovementisMedicine for all the ideas.

So be sure to embrace exercise and the wonderful benefits for you post-surgery, but don’t go it alone in the early days. If you have access to a great Exercise Physiologist, and your surgeon has a modern approach, then the process will be safe, fun and achievable! It is our sincere hope that the experience will inspire you to reach for goals you never imagined possible.

Want to know what life will really be like after surgery?

Why not head to our patient information area, to get all the facts.

More articles about exercise. 

How Can Exercise and Bariatric Surgery Work Together?

How Can Exercise and Bariatric Surgery Work Together?

Post-operatively, exercise is always a good idea, especially if it’s tailored, fun and effective. If you’re thinking about having bariatric surgery such as a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, you may have heard that your weight “melts off,” especially in the early...

read more
How Incidental Activity Can Help You Lose Weight

How Incidental Activity Can Help You Lose Weight

Beginning an exercise regime can be challenging - not only time-wise but also in terms of motivation - especially if you have had a mostly sedentary lifestyle. To help continue your weight loss you need to continue moving - but it doesn’t have to be challenging. An...

read more
Any Exercise is Better Than None

Any Exercise is Better Than None

Is it hard to find time in your day to exercise? If you are trying to fit in an hour at the gym every day and constantly coming up short, don’t let it dishearten you! Let me show you what’s so good about exercise - especially exercise after weight loss surgery, and...

read more

How Incidental Activity Can Help You Lose Weight

How Incidental Activity Can Help You Lose Weight

How Incidental Activity Can Help You Lose Weight

Beginning an exercise regime can be challenging – not only time-wise but also in terms of motivation – especially if you have had a mostly sedentary lifestyle. To help continue your weight loss you need to continue moving – but it doesn’t have to be challenging. An easy trick to increase your daily physical activity levels is to increase your incidental activity. Incidental activities are activities that are undertaken as part of our every-day life. They are unplanned…just part of your daily life. Let me show you how.

Guest Post By Vanessa Coman, Exercise Physiologist and Director at New Me.

There are so many ways to turn normal daily activities into actual physical activities.  You just need to get creative.  Look for opportunities to pop a little more movement into your daily lives.  You will be surprised at how good it makes you feel.

Here’s some great tips to make ordinary activities more purposeful.

At home

  • Put your phone on the other side of the room to charge at night, and when your alarm goes off, you are forced to get up. This is especially helpful for those who struggle to get up in the morning and allows you to start your day earlier, whether for exercise or to simply end the alarm and snooze relationship you have each morning.
  • Take 1 bag of grocery shopping in at a time from the car
  • Do some kitchen exercises while you wait for the toaster, microwave or kettle to boil. These could include marching on the spot, bench push-ups, tippy toes or squats.
  • Split up your washing. Take several small loads to the line to hang out, which adds in some more activity time.
  • Think about a little exercise routine you can do in the short ad breaks while you’re watching T.V. perhaps a few crunches or sit-ups.

Weekdays

For people whose workdays revolve primarily on sitting at a desk, there are some small and simple actions you can incorporate into your day like:

  • Standing instead of sitting at your desk for a couple of hours a day
  • Whether you have your lunch at your desk or in the lunch room, set aside some time on your lunch break to go for a stroll. Every step counts!
  • If you receive a call on your mobile, get up and take a walk around instead of sitting or standing still!

Going to and from work

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator into work
  • Park further away from your destination, so you have to walk further
  • Ride your bike if possible!
  • If you have children, walking them to and from school or daycare can be a great way to get extra exercise in for both of you. If you can’t walk all the way, park a reasonable distance and walk the rest.

Out and about

One of the most significant hurdles during the weight loss journey is sticking to your new routines in social settings. Whether it be at a family lunch or a coffee date, there are lots of little tricks to squeeze in some exercise in your social commitments such as:

  • Like work, park further away from your destination, so you have to walk further
  • Take the stairs to your local shopping centre
  • If you’re meeting a friend, why not choose to go for a walk with takeaway coffee instead of sitting in?
  • Organise an outdoor setting like a park where you will have the opportunity to move around

Every day is a great day to start exercising

No matter what you do – whether hard out exercise or incidental activity, and no matter how long or short the intervals are – just start counting up your movement. It all adds up to your total 1 hour of movement a day that we are striving for.
And remember every little bit counts no matter how small. Time to get creative and have fun!

Want to know more about exercise and weight loss surgery?

Learn how essential exercise is to your success.

Any Exercise is Better Than None

Any Exercise is Better Than None

Any Exercise is Better Than None

Is it hard to find time in your day to exercise? If you are trying to fit in an hour at the gym every day and constantly coming up short, don’t let it dishearten you! Let me show you what’s so good about exercise – especially exercise after weight loss surgery, and just why those little moments of activity are never a waste of time.

Guest Post By Vanessa Coman, Exercise Physiologist, and Clinical Director at NewMe.

The Importance of An Exercise Routine

It is so important after bariatric surgery to develop an exercise routine. Sure, you may be losing weight anyway, but you should aim to build strength and muscle tone simultaneously. Getting stronger mentally and physically as you lose weight is so empowering. It is also just downright good for your body. So take some time to include exercise every day as part of your self-care and movement towards a healthier life.

For optimum health, everyone should aim for at least 30 minutes per day of exercise, and around 1 hour if you really need to shift the kilos. So how do you do that? Here are a couple of great tips to get you moving!

 

Break it Up

If you don’t have 30 minutes in your day to exercise, try splitting it up into 10-minute segments instead. Everyone can find 10 minutes to spare some time during the day!

Studies are now starting to show that these multiple quick 10 minute sessions are just as good or even better that along 30-minute session for health benefits.

10-minute workout ideas you can adapt to your fitness level:

  • skipping rope
  • stairs
  • walk around the block
  • home mini-circuit (think squats, plank, lunges, and sit-ups)
  • dance workout
  • playing a game of soccer with your kids
  • short ride on bike

Some Days are Diamonds but it’s the Everyday that Counts

We understand that some days the likelihood of achieving your exercise goals varies. Sometimes you have 1 hour, sometimes you don’t. Rather than getting down on yourself for not achieving your 30 minutes or 1 hour per day, why not make a deal with yourself to do at least some exercise every day no matter what?

Sometimes I find this approach is much less daunting, and just getting into the habit of exercising every day is really beneficial. Who knows you may even find after a little while, you’re up to 1 hour each day and enjoying it!

Remember, if you have been inactive for a very long time, any exercise you do will have a positive impact on your fitness. So don’t get down on yourself, just commit to moving more, every day if you can, and you’ll be on your way to better health in no time.

 

Want to Know More About Exercising After Surgery?

Understand the importance of exercise after your procedure and find out about our approach to your fitness and health.

About Vanessa Coman

About Vanessa Coman

Exercise Physiologist

Vanessa is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSA) who is an integral part of the team at Weight Loss Solutions Sunshine Coast. She is also a Level 2 Wellness Coach. Vanessa combines these skills with her program New Me – which offers a gentle and encouraging approach to weight loss and healthy living for our patients. The program teaches patients how to move correctly, and safely while improving fitness and muscle tone after surgery.

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