We get lots of questions about bariatric exercises. In other words, people ask the weight-loss surgery experts at WeightWise about physical activity and exercise plans that will get the blood pumpin’ and the heart rate jumpin’ after their procedures. Another popular question is about toning exercises after bariatric surgery.
Before we dig into exercises after weight loss surgery, please note: It’s important to speak with your doctor about any exercise plans you may be interested in post-op. Regardless of which metabolic and bariatric surgery you’ve opted for, there are specifics about your situation (medical conditions, general health and wellbeing, and age, for example) that factor into designing an appropriate bariatric exercise plan.
Whether it was a long-lasting injury, a debilitating personal issue, or just an unhealthy lifestyle, becoming obese or morbidly obese doesn’t happen overnight. And it will take hard work after surgery to achieve a healthy weight once again.
Weight loss surgery is just one piece of the puzzle. Studies have shown the best way to lose up to 80 percent of unwanted weight is through surgery, a healthy diet, and exercise. And not just for a few months after surgery, either. To reach a healthy weight, and stay there, it must be a life-long commitment.
Bariatric Workout Routines
Bariatric surgery patients will not be competing in triathlons in the weeks after a procedure. However, they will be able to plan and take part in specialized exercise programs almost immediately. For some, this could be walking around the neighborhood for 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day.
For others, it could be starting an exercise routine involving resistance training and flexibility improvement after your doctor or exercise physiologist gives you the go-ahead. It doesn’t matter what the long-term goal is, either cardiovascular improvement, improved flexibility, or building muscle mass. The important thing to remember is your body is going through a massive change.
So start slow. Walking is a good first step (so to speak) and can be accomplished by almost any patient. Walk around the block for a week, then increase it to two blocks if you can. Every little bit helps get your body used to activity–sometimes for the first time in years.
Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The type of surgery you have will also determine how quickly you return to normal day-to-day activity. You’ll be able to return to those normal activities also immediately after laparoscopic surgery, a series of small incisions.
Bariatric Workout Routine to Tone Skin
After 12 months of healthy eating and exercise, bariatric patients can expect to lose at least 65 percent of their excess weight. In some patients, that can be well over 100 pounds! This could lead to “sagging” skin, a condition where excess skin is left behind after a massive weight loss.
So you are probably asking yourself, how do you tighten your skin after weight loss surgery? Cosmetic surgery is an option, though many bariatric surgery patients prefer other steps for toning the skin around their stomach, legs, and arms. The best way to do this is to build muscle.
Developing lean muscle will help decrease the appearance of loose skin. Other exercises can help improve muscle mass and perhaps return some elasticity to the skin. Exercises including swimming, jogging, cycling, yoga, and other aerobic exercises are a good place to start.
Although we said it’s important to start slow, you should build up to around 150 minutes of activity every week. This can be accomplished by exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Toning Exercises After Weight-Loss Surgery
The best part about many of these strength training exercises is you don’t need some expensive workout machine or a whole stack of weights. Using your own body weight (even though there is less of it!) will help tighten skin by developing muscle.
- Standing Calf Raises
- Abdominal Crunches
- Leg Lifts and Kicks
- Wall Push-Ups
- Arm Circles and Shoulder Rolls
- Triceps Dips on a Chair or Bench
From a standing position, feet shoulder length apart, slowly bend your knees to a comfortable depth, and then straighten back up. Try to keep your back as straight as possible.
From a standing position, take one step forward and bend your knees to a comfortable position. Then step back and switch legs.
Using an actual step (which hopefully has a handrail), take one step up, pause, and then step back down. You can also use a platform of some sort, but make sure it’s steady and you have some way of balancing yourself.
Standing Calf Raises
From a standing position (naturally), lift yourself up to your tippy toes, hold, and then lower yourself down. If you have steps in your home, you can stand on the edge of a step and lower your heels below the surface. Please use the handrail!
We can already hear some of you wince, but this is one of the best exercises you can do for your core if done correctly. Lay on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet on the floor. Then lift your torso while keeping your back as straight as possible, hold, then lower. All of this should be done in a controlled manner: don’t use your arms for momentum and don’t curl your back.
Lay on your back and slowly lift one leg without bending your knee. Lower in a controlled fashion and then lift the other leg. At some point, you’ll lift both legs at the same time.
Stand a few feet from the wall and put your hands on the wall. Slowly bend your arms until you’re at the wall, and then slowly push your way back to standing straight up.
Arm Circles and Shoulder Rolls
From a standing position, lift your arms without bending the elbows out to either side. Move your hands in a circular motion clockwise and then counterclockwise. For shoulder rolls, lower your arms and raise your shoulders in a shrugging manner. Then roll them back, down, forward, and up.
Using a chair or bench, put your hands on the edge of the seat with your feet out in front of you. Then bend your elbows so you lower yourself below the seat. Then lift yourself back up. At the start, you may want to use a chair with armrests–from your sitting position, raise yourself up until your arms are straight, and then slowly lower yourself.
These are a few easy bariatric exercises you can start out with once you get the okay from your surgeon. As you begin to gain strength, there are other bariatric workout routines you can follow, but we recommend talking to one of our exercise physiologists before starting something more advanced. You don’t want to hurt yourself after all of the hard work you put in to get to this point.
Work With Experts When Learning Toning Exercises After Bariatric Surgery
Meeting with an exercise physiologist is just part of the WeightWise program. We take a three-prong approach to bariatric surgery. Many facilities just work on one aspect of weight loss. With WeightWise, we take a holistic approach: There is the surgery itself, developing a nutrition plan, and creating a personalized workout routine.
All three work together to help you lose weight and keep the weight off. We want to stress this is not a six-month or two-year process. You will need to fully embrace this new healthier lifestyle in order to keep the weight off. This isn’t a diet or short-term workout plan – this is your new life.
Surgery, Diet, and Bariatric Workout Routines All Under One Roof
We believe having access to all of the services in one place is the most beneficial way to have a procedure. Instead of making our patients drive all over town to meet with us, a dietitian, and an exercise physiologist at different locations. By offering everything in one place, you will receive a comprehensive and consistent plan.
WeightWise also assigns a patient advocate to everyone accepted into the program. At different times, you may have questions about billing, insurance, and recovery. Your patient advocate will be able to answer those questions, provide a shoulder to cry on, and act as a personal cheerleader!
Interested in learning more about our bariatric procedures or the program as a whole? Make sure to check out our free online seminar to see why our program is so successful and then make an appointment. We look forward to seeing how we can help you or a loved one.
Which Bariatric Surgery is Right For You?
We know how much bariatric surgeries help obese patients with many ailments (sleep apnea, high blood pressure, etc.). Some patients opt for the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass; others, in consultation with their surgeon, choose a gastric sleeve or another type of surgery.
Some surgeries create a small pouch in the stomach, while other procedures reroute part of the small intestine. In any case, the decision to have bariatric surgery that reduces the amount of food one can consume is never an easy one. For some patients, bariatric surgery represents the best option — or the only option.
Don’t worry, though: WeightWise is here to answer all your questions so you feel comfortable taking the next step in your journey to health and wellness. If you have any questions for our bariatric surgeons or any concerns whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you, and we are honored that you have chosen us to be your partner in this journey.