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Physical Conditioning and Exercise Pre and Post Bariatric Surgery

Experts believe that physical activity can help people lose weight and experience other positive outcomes after bariatric surgery. However, because most bariatric patients are relatively inactive prior to surgery, they may have difficulty embracing exercise pre- and post-surgery.

Patients considering or recovering from bariatric surgery are more likely to keep the weight off and ultimately enjoy better outcomes when appropriate exercise is incorporated into their treatment plan. This can be challenging for some, but success is achievable.

Pre-and Post-Surgical Recommendations

To improve safety of surgery and help achieve maximum weight loss and other benefits following bariatric surgery, research indicates that patients should embrace physical conditioning prior to surgery and certainly incorporate exercise program in their weight loss journey.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recommends aerobic conditioning and light resistance training of 20 minutes per day, three or four days a week, before bariatric surgery to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, reduce the risk of surgical complications, speed healing, and enhance the potential for recovery. The American Heart Association (AHA) makes similar recommendations.

After surgery, the ASMBS, the Obesity Society, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists all agree that postoperative bariatric patients who lead a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly have a better chance of achieving optimal body weight and improving body composition. This includes a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day. To maintain a healthy body weight, increased physical activity is necessary.

Bariatric surgery patients stand to gain noticeable benefits from physical activity exercises to improve strength and flexibility, and aerobics exercises according to fitness level. Exercise not only helps patients control and manage weight, but it also prevents and manages a variety of chronic medical conditions and improves coronary risk factors.

After bariatric surgery, your training regimen should focus on:

  • Cardio-aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart and lungs, increase bone density, boost mental sharpness, and produce endorphins to help combat anxiety and depression
  • Strength training to maintain lean muscle mass, keep bones strong, and tone and build muscles so patients can remain active
  • Flexibility, including walking and stretching exercises to help avoid injury

A post-bariatric surgery exercise program will typically begin slowly as recovery progresses, and gradually evolve over the next six to eight weeks toward the patient’s fitness goals. As the body continues to heal and strengthen, post-bariatric patients will need to increase activity accordingly to help keep the weight off and reclaim their health.