Exercise helps bariatric patients lose weight more rapidly after surgery. We have established a gradual exercise and physical activity program that is a key to helping a patient achieve desired weight loss and the body they want. We recommend that our patients begin an exercise program as soon as our surgeons feel that it is the appropriate time to do so. Patients that follow a regular exercise program lose weight more efficiently and are more likely to maintain their weight loss. Our comprehensive exercise program has been created to allow bariatric patients to embrace the long-term benefits of an active lifestyle.
The exercise concept we have developed is based on gradually increasing your physical activity level. Changing your behavior gradually will enable you to keep these changes permanently. If you do too much early in your program you will increase the possibility of injuring yourself.
When we help you set your goals for the program, the design will be based on what you are trying to achieve and what you believe you will eventually be able to.
- Making your goals unrealistic and out of reach is a prescription for failure.
- Choosing the equipment best suited to your physical condition will help keep you focused on the program. This will avoid unnecessary stress to those parts of your body that can be adversely affected by the exercise. This includes selecting the correct athletic shoes for walking in order to avoid problems with your ankles, hips and knees.
- Varying your exercises will decrease the possibility of boredom and your lack of interest in pursuing the exercise program.
- It often helps to reward yourself with a non-food reward when you achieve a desired goal.
If you ever encounter difficulty with a particular exercise make sure to contact our surgeons before continuing with it.
Following bariatric surgery, the patient takes in fewer calories. As a result, the body, in its search for energy, could begin to burn muscle instead of fat. Exercising alters the metabolism so the body would burn fat instead of muscle.
In addition to helping achieve desired weight loss, an exercise program will also boost your metabolism, decrease risk of cardiac disease, lower blood pressure, tone muscle, increase energy and help tighten loose skin caused by rapid weight loss.
You may have the opportunity to meet with an exercise physiologist who will develop a program based on you own individual needs. The program will be designed so that it can be modified and updated to help you achieve maximum weight loss as you continue on your road to freedom from obesity. Your individual plan will be based on your preferences, physical limitations, access to exercise equipment and your motivation. Strength training is encouraged as it preserves lean muscle mass as it decreases the percentage of body fat.
Support groups provide education and instruction regarding exercise program design. Information will be provided for enhanced back health with abdominal strength and endurance exercises, proper stretching techniques, resistance training for improved muscular strength and endurance (i.e. energy and vitality) and techniques to enhance cardiovascular endurance post bariatric surgery. The support groups are a combination of lecture, PowerPoint presentation, and handouts. Exercise demonstration and participation provide a tactile, physical approach to correct technique for participants. Participation is encouraged, but not forced. The focus is on providing an environment that is supportive, offering modifications for all individuals to help them obtain confidence in approaching a more active lifestyle.
Daily physical activity is also instrumental in helping achieve weight loss. Walking, gardening and house cleaning are just a few of our daily activities that will burn calories and contribute to helping lose weight and is considered part of your exercise program. Some ideas on how to include your daily activities into your exercise program include parking your car away from your destination and walking to it and taking the stairs for a few flights instead of the elevator.
We realize the importance of an exercise and physical activity program but will only suggest it when we feel you are physically ready for it. It will be done in graduated stages so that you will be able to do it without experiencing difficulty. Our doctors will guide you through your exercise and physical activity program and will always be available to answer your questions and offer you support and encouragement.
A physical therapist will evaluate your ability to move after you have had surgery. This evaluation occurs on the day of your surgery or the day immediately following it. Your exercise program begins then. It starts with moving in bed and progresses to sitting at the edge of the bed, standing at the side of the bed and then eventually to taking your first steps and walking.
During the first week following your surgery your exercise program is designed to avoid strenuous activities and consists of the normal daily activities of walking, sitting and grooming. Abdominal exercises normally do not begin until two weeks after your surgery and only then with our surgeon’s approval.
After bariatric surgery your body will undergo dramatic physical changes. It is commonly believed by experts in the field that patients who follow their exercise guidelines as well as their recommended diet plan will more likely achieve their weigh loss goals, avoid a relapse, firm up their body and reduce the potential need for additional surgical procedures.
WALKING is one of the most important components of a bariatric weight loss program. All patients, irrelevant of the procedure they have, are asked to participate in a walking program. It is one of the most effective ways of increasing weight loss and keeping it off. A walking program will help strengthen your heart and have a positive affect on the way your heart and lungs deliver blood and oxygen to working muscles. Daily tasks will begin to seem easier and there will be a decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.
Make sure that you have a good pair of walking shoes that are comfortable and give you support.
It is suggested, for bypass patients, that you start your walking program by walking for a few minutes several times a day. Walk on a flat surface until our doctor tells you that you can walk on grades.
All patients should try to exercise for five to ten minutes before you begin your walk. It will help prevent aches and pains. Try to establish a plan for yourself by setting goals that are attainable. You can take two five-minute walks every day and then if you prefer, it can be changed to two thirty- minute walks a week. Do whatever you feel more comfortable with. Do not try to push yourself beyond what you are capable of doing. Often walking with a partner helps make it more pleasurable. When your walk is completed, we suggest that you stretch because that will help your body cool down.
Exercising with WEIGHTS is highly recommended. We suggest a weightlifting program that focuses on the upper body. Our focus is in that area because many overweight people have already developed strong leg muscles because of all the extra weight their legs have had to support. In addition, many obese people have injuries and pains in their ankles, knees and hips. The added stress that weight lifting would cause to those areas would not be beneficial. In addition, women usually neglect their upper body when it comes to exercise. Because of these factors we limit our weightlifting program to strengthening the upper body.
With the purchase of 2 inexpensive dumbbells your program can begin. Women generally start with either two, three or four pound dumbbells. Men begin with three, five or seven and one half pound dumbbells. Start off by lifting the weights and performing your exercise 10 to 15 times every other day. If you experience pain or get tired, then you are probably using a dumbbell that is too heavy for you. We recommend setting a goal of three sets of ten to fifteen repetitions. (A repetition is one complete range of motion of the weightlifting exercise. A set is the total number of repetitions of a specific exercise that you would complete.)
You can expect to feel some muscle soreness. If you experience pain then stop doing it and consult with our doctors. As you progress and find that the sets begin to get easier to perform you can increase the amount of repetitions to fifteen to twenty for three sets. Don’t push yourself too hard. Do it at a gradual pace and it will eventually work for you.
STRETCHING is part of your exercise program and is performed before and after walking and lifting weights. While stretching you should not feel any pain. If that happens change your position and reduce the amount of force you were using. Stretching should be a smooth, slow, gentle and extended activity. Avoid bouncing. Each stretch should be held for approximately thirty seconds as you breathe in and out deeply and slowly. As you stretch, your muscles begin to lengthen and the tension decreases.
EXERCISING AT HOME WITHOUT EQUIPMENT is convenient, not costly, and a great way to help achieve your weight loss goals. The walk space at home becomes your exercise area and exercising becomes part of your daily activities when you are home. You can walk in circles or back and forth while listening to the TV or radio. You can also do it while meditating or singing. Twenty minutes of walking is equivalent to approximately walking one mile. If you watched two half hour TV shows or listened to the radio for one hour while you walked around the house you will have walked approximately three miles. Look around the house and you can chart your course. Pathways through the living room, dining room, den and bedroom become your walking track. Circle the TV, couch, dining room table and chairs and you’re still on your track. Changing your pattern and direction can help make it a bit more interesting. You should begin this exercise slowly at first by spending twenty minutes doing it. Then you should gradually build it up to one hour. Try doing this every day, if possible. If not, then try to do it at least several times a week. Wall pushups and stomach crunches can also be done at home and at your convenience.
Our program is one of MODERATION and GRADUATED STAGES. Your exercise program will be designed for you. It will be planned so that you can easily start it, increase it as you go along, and continue on with it long-term as it contributes to helping you achieve your weight loss goals.