The Benefits of Yoga for Bariatric Patients

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Following weight loss surgery, patients are typically encouraged to explore various forms of exercise to reduce the risk of regaining weight. It’s just as important for patients to choose types of physical activity that are actually enjoyable. Not only will this make exercise seem like less of a chore, it will also boost the odds of sticking to a regular fitness routine. One option worth considering is yoga, a discipline that has known physiological, psychological, and biochemical benefits that can also be good for weight loss surgery patients.

Improved Joint Mobility

Some bariatric patients have issues with arthritis that developed over the years, in part, due to excess weight. Having surgical weight loss won’t automatically take away arthritis-related aches and pains, but what yoga can do is gently work stiff or weak joints enough to improve flexibility and ease tension. Yoga poses and exercises that tend to be safe for arthritis sufferers include:

  • Child’s pose
  • Cow pose
  • Supine twisting
  • Pelvic tilts

Increased Metabolic Rate

For bariatric patients, the breathing techniques associated with yoga along with the movements required for various poses can effectively burn calories. Flowing from one pose to another can also boost metabolism, which can lead to more calorie and fat burning. A higher metabolic rate may also help facilitate the post-surgery weight loss process and minimize issues with frustrating plateaus – referring to times when weight loss slows.

Better Stress Management

The mindful and thoughtful aspects of yoga are designed to promote relaxation and make it easier to effectively manage stress. This can be especially beneficial for weight loss patients since significant weight loss and lifestyle adjustments often result in a mix of emotions and mood changes. Managing stress better may also reduce issues with stress eating, a common contributing factor to weight gain. Yoga poses and exercises that may help with stress management include:

  • Easy pose with a forward bend (sukhasana)
  • Thunderbolt pose (vajrasana)
  • Side stretches
  • Corpse Pose (savasana)

Getting Back On Track Faster

Many yoga participants also develop an improved sense of awareness. Being more aware of what’s going on in terms of both mind and body may improve awareness enough for patients to improve their reaction time if it becomes clear that certain unhealthy habits may be unintentionally returning so corrections can be quickly made. Bariatric patients practicing yoga may also find it easier to stick to their recommended aftercare program because of this increased awareness.

While weight loss patients also tend to do well with low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and light weightlifting, it’s not always easy to find places to do these types of activities on a regular basis, especially when cooler weather arrives. What’s great about yoga is that once the basic techniques are learned, it can be practiced just about anywhere. Get started by either finding a class in your area to learn the basics or using online instructional videos.