The Exercise Dilemma After Bariatric Surgery
Updated: Mar 13
The human body was built to be in motion, to engage in movements with the purpose of surviving and living with optimal physical capacities.
Our basic instinct of movement has been lost in the rising of our industrialised and fast-paced world. We have been disconnected from the fundamental capacities of our human bodies.
Obesity rates have tremendously increased in the last decade, and the fight against fat and our continual striving for weight loss has faced many challenges.
Bariatric surgery is a tool to help the obese population start their weight loss journey, the aftermath is still faced with many challenges.
The integration of exercises and physical activity is a complex, yet simple one. The unknown mixed with the fear of starting to move is justified since there is not a lot of resources and guidelines for patients after surgery.
I gave myself the mission to demystify and simplify how you can regain your physical capacities and access optimal well-being after bariatric surgery.
There is never an easy solution, there will be a lot of fear-induced moments of doubts, and there will be moments where you want to give up. But know that if done correctly and with patience, you will get there.
So where do we start?
First, it is important to have a professional assess your physical condition and your medical history before engaging in any exercises.
Obesity brings its load of physical limitations (musculoskeletal injuries, limited range of motion, metabolic diseases etc.)
However, as soon as possible after surgery, start moving (walking, stairs).
Walking and mobility exercises are the foundation of building your physical capacities.
Weight training is of primordial importance since building muscle mass (or maintaining it) is of the best predictor of success after surgery. You will lose a lot a weight at a fast pace after surgery, so it is inevitable that you will lose some muscle mass, however, you want to lose primarily fat mass, not lean mass, otherwise it is where you BMR ( basic metabolic rate) will decrease and it will come back to haunt you.
Another important point to take into consideration is; your centre of gravity will shift and you might find yourself wondering why all of sudden you are clumsy and unbalanced.
Slowly integrating balance and coordination exercises is also very important after surgery.
While you shed away the pounds, you need to shed away the myths around exercises.
You need to find your purpose.
You need to find that place where your wellbeing is tied to your success.
Exercise is perceived by most as being strenuous and hard to keep up with. It can be true, however, your perception can be adapted as you strive to reach that feeling of peace within your body.
Follow these simple steps after surgery:
Start walking slowly, respect yourself, but try to walk every day even for just 5 minutes at the time. Try to complete at least 30 minutes a day if possible.
Move your extremities (leg and arms). For example, do sitting leg raises and arm raises
Get strong; use your current weight to get your muscles working. Use body weight exercises like squat.
Last but not least, respect your limits, while getting out of your comfort zone
There is a lot to learn about exercises and how to learn to move as we were meant to. You will face challenging times and you will sometimes wonder if it is worth it or if you could do it without having to suffer through going to the gym or working out at home.
The answer is maybe you could, but the lasting effect on your weight loss won’t be the same.
Exercises is crucial for balancing and maintaining weight loss long term. No mountain is climbed from the top, start small, start at the bottom and build yourself up.