Get Set for Success with Increased Activity!

Get Ready For Bariatric Surgery: Increase  Activity

Weight loss surgery is a great tool to help you to improve your health and take control of your quality of life. The time from the consultation with your surgeon at Barix Clinics to the time of surgery can vary from a few weeks to several months. Use this time to prepare for post-surgery life and put healthy habits in place.

Roadblocks to Exercise

Discomfort, energy, motivation and time are the most common roadblocks to increasing activity. Most people have an easier time exercising once they have had surgery. Why?

  • Joint pain often decreases very soon after surgery, most likely from a reduction in inflammation.
  • Energy usually increases—for some right away, others take a little time to recover their energy after surgery.
  • Motivation soars after surgery—it’s easier to exercise when you almost immediately see the results of your efforts.

What doesn’t change is time. Before or after surgery, you need to find time to consistently include activity into your lifestyle.

Why Exercise Before Surgery?

Why start exercising now, prior to surgery, if it’s going to be easier once you’ve had surgery? There are many benefits to doing so including:

  • Exercise raises the “feel good” brain hormones dopamine and serotonin. It also lowers stress hormones. Who couldn’t stand to have a few extra “feel good” hormones flowing through their body?
  • An increase in activity will help get your heart and lungs in the best possible shape for surgery.
  • Regular exercise can help you to shed pre-surgery weight, increasing the likelihood that your surgeon will be able to perform your surgery laparoscopically.
  • Figuring out how to find the time and getting in the habit of regular exercise before surgery, sets you up with a healthful habit that will help you to reach and maintain your weight goal after surgery.
  • You’ll give yourself a head-start on your weight loss. You’ll be up and walking right after surgery. If you’ve built up your walking endurance prior to surgery, you will quickly be right back to walking that distance.

Here’s what one patient had to say about her experience starting to exercise before surgery:

I joined a gym six months before my surgery. At first all I could do was the aqua fitness class, but I did it. Eventually, I started walking on the treadmill and increased my time little by little. It was hard! The real benefits came when I was released from restrictions following surgery. Because I was already in the habit of going to the gym and had built up my endurance, I was able to walk longer on the treadmill and add a little incline. I also started riding my bike to the store when I just had to pick up a few things (it has a basket) instead of taking the car.

Before I knew it, I was trying out different machines at the gym and was able to do it! Now, I’ve taken it to the next level with a personal trainer. He works me hard and holds me accountable. I’m doing 30 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of intense cardio—all without pain or shortness of breath.

I’m 53 and have COPD, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease. I’ve lost 92 pounds in 8 months and I feel amazing!  I am certain starting exercise before surgery built up my stamina and made it easier for me to transition to the level of exercise I am now able to do. Exercise to me is every bit as vital as good nutrition for my success on this amazing life-changing journey!

What if You Have Physical Limitations?

Although you may have physical limitations, chances are that you can find a safe way to exercise before surgery. Check with your primary care physician prior to starting an exercise program. Your doctor may even be able to refer you to a physical therapist if you have special concerns such as a bad back or injured knee. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Track your steps. Did you know that there are phone apps available that will accurately track your steps for you? You can also use a pedometer (look in the sporting goods section for an inexpensive option) or a fitness tracker like a Fitbit.

First, find out how many steps a day you currently take; then set a goal to increase your number of steps each day. Tailor your step goal to your fitness level. You aren’t competing with anyone else, just getting in the best shape that you can.

  • Hop in the water. The buoyancy of water cushions your body and adds resistance for a dynamite workout. Check with your local school district, YMCA, or health club for a water aerobics class or swimming opportunities near your home or work.
  • Search for chair exercise videos online. These seated routines will get your heart pumping and help you move more if your ability to walk is limited.
  • Dance, clean, take the steps, walk to the store – you’ve got the idea-just get moving.

The steps you take now to increase your activity will give you a jumpstart on your exercise plan after surgery and your ultimate goal of reaching a healthy weight. Congratulations-you’re on your way to a healthy you!

About Deb Hart

Deb Hart is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. For the last 28 years, she has been helping bariatric surgery patients reach their health and weight goals. She teaches people how to set up a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight. Deb set up her own lifestyle to include lots of long walks with her furry family members, workout classes at her local wellness center, meal prepping, and finding new ways to enjoy foods without added sugar.
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