Move It!

It doesn’t matter what you choose to do: join a gym; get a pedometer and take at least 10,000 steps a day; get up every 20 minutes and stretch; or join a dance class. Get active! Living a sedentary life slows your metabolism down, it makes it more likely that you will be overweight, and it puts you at a higher risk of depression.

In the immortal words of that lovable lemur, King Julian from the movie “Madagascar“: “  I like to Move it! Move it! Move it nice and sweet and sassy, alright!”

After bariatric surgery you’re preparing for a new chapter in your life. A chapter that includes healthy eating choices and regular exercise, resulting in a new and improved you! There are a variety of different exercises that you can do while you’re recovering from bariatric surgery. As you progress, you will be able to add more challenging exercises to your workout routine.

Depending on your prior fitness level, your doctor will recommend when and how much you can start working out after surgery. Normally doctors recommend that you don’t engage in activities more strenuous than walking during the first 30 to 90 days after surgery. Here are six of the best post bariatric surgery exercises you can use and modify during each stage of your recovery from surgery.

Low Impact Exercises (2-4 weeks after surgery)

For the first couple weeks after surgery you should focus on your recovery before beginning your exercise routine. Once you feel up to it (and have your doctors permission), you can begin completing low impact exercises such as:

  • Sitting Exercises
  • Leg lifts – While sitting, lift your legs in a marching motion.
  • Shoulder rolls – Roll your shoulders backward and forward.
  • Arm rotations – Lift your arms straight out at shoulder height and move them in small circular rotations forward and backward.
  • Walking – Although it’s one of the simplest things you can do, it’s also one of the most effective ways to begin building up your stamina. Start by walking for only 10 minutes, twice a day. Slowly work yourself up until you can easily take a 30 minute walk.

Aerobics and Cardio (1-3 months after surgery)

By one month after surgery you should be able to start some more challenging post bariatric surgery exercises. Make sure to go at your own pace and to keep in contact with your bariatric surgeon if you have any questions or concerns. Your surgeon should be able to tell you the best exercises for your unique situation. Here are a couple effective low impact cardio exercises:

  • Cycling – Riding a bicycle is great exercise that is easy on the joints. You can go to cycling classes or explore your neighborhood on a real bike. Try to ride for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
  • Water aerobics – This is one of the most effective forms of exercise with one of the lowest injury rates. Many gyms will offer water aerobics classes that you can attend, or you can choose to swim a few laps everyday in your own swimming pool.

Strength Training (4 months after surgery)

Strength training is essential to losing weight after bariatric surgery. Strength training allows you to build muscle, burn more calories, and improve balance. With your doctor’s permission, you can begin strength training at least 3 times a week. Some examples of good beginner strength training include:

  • Squats and Lunges – Both are effective low impact strength training exercises that will help to build muscle in your legs. Strengthening these muscles will allow you to complete longer endurance exercises.
  • Yoga – Yoga is a perfect mix of strength training and relaxation. You can purchase a yoga DVD to do in the privacy of your own home or find a gym that offers classes in your area.

Start out slow. There’s a big difference between sore muscles and sharp pain. If something feels a little off, make sure that you stop immediately and contact your doctor. Your bariatric surgeon will be able to recommend the best post bariatric surgery exercises for you and make sure that you’re on the right track. This is a time to celebrate your healthy, new lifestyle. All of your hard work now will result in many more healthy and happier years to come.


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