Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery

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As with any weight loss program, a patient who has undergone bariatric surgery will need to exercise in order to get the best results. However, bariatric surgery is major surgery, so you will have to be cautious about the type of exercise you choose. For example, resistance exercise of any type is forbidden for the first few weeks after surgery, for you need that time to heal.


Walking will be the first type of exercise a bariatric patient will be encouraged to do, because it has the advantages of both reducing complications like blood clots and speeding recovery. During the first month or so, you will be very sore. Your doctor will prescribe a regimen during which you’ll walk between five and ten minutes at least three times a day. You should gradually increase the length of your walks as your condition improves.

Aerobic Exercise

About a month after the surgery, you may start aerobic exercises like cycling or swimming. These exercises get the heart going, and they put less stress on the joints than running does. In fact, swimming and other aquatic exercises tend to be popular choices with bariatric patients, because they can do the exercises without risking joint pain. You should stick to low-impact and low-intensity exercises that allow you to speak normally.

Strength Training

Strength training exercises will be the last type added; you should not start strength training exercises until at least six weeks after the surgery, and the American Council on Exercise recommends waiting four months to ensure the incisions have completely healed.

By the time you start strength training, you should be doing your aerobic exercises five days a week for 30 to 60 minutes per session. You still need to be careful, especially with exercises that target the lower back or abdominal region. Your rapid weight loss will alter your center of balance, so be careful when doing exercises like step-ups or lunges that require both balance and coordination.

Anyone beginning strength training needs to take it slowly. Start with dumbbells that weigh between one and five pounds and work towards doing three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions. Once you can do that, start using heavier weights. You should not “push through the pain” if something hurts; instead you should stop and do something else.