Exercises to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

October 1, 2019

The postoperative bariatric exercise plan generally falls into two parts. First, is the short-term plan starting immediately after surgery and continuing for several months until you have lost a significant amount of weight and healed appropriately. The second is the longer-term exercise regimen that you will follow for the rest of your life. Not all exercises, however, are created equal and some may actually be detrimental to your continued progress after surgery.

During Your Recovery Period

You will be asked to get up and walk around almost immediately after surgery and while still in the hospital. We expect you to continue this light activity once you return home and we want you to progressively increase the amount of walking you do each day – obviously within your physical limits. It is important to remember, however, that during this time, you’re still recovering from major surgery and the wrong exercises can cause significant complications.

Also, during this time, you should not lift any more than 10-to-15 pounds, and strenuous activity should be avoided until your surgeon gives you the okay. It is also important to avoid strain while on narcotic pain medication, which may impair your balance and coordination and could lead to a serious accident.

You will also need to avoid abdominal exercises during recovery, both for the obvious reason of allowing your incisions to heal, but also to reduce the risk of developing abdominal hernias. Anytime the muscle in the abdomen is cut, there is a chance for a hernia to form. This is known as an incisional hernia.

Over the Longer-Term

After approximately 6-to-8 weeks, you will likely be cleared to resume normal activity. This means that your incisions have healed and you have given your gastrointestinal tract the appropriate amount of recovery time. While you will be cleared to perform more strenuous activities, you still have to be careful as to how far you push it. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind when exercising after your bariatric procedure.

First and foremost, try to avoid high-impact activities including running or jogging before you have lost a significant amount of weight. Your joints will be under a tremendous amount of pressure from the excess weight and you will be more susceptible to injury.

During the weight loss phase, you may also be consuming significantly fewer calories, to which your body takes some time to adjust. During this time, pushing too hard during exercise may cause dizziness or imbalance and fatigue. Be mindful of your limits and don’t try to push harder than directed in your postoperative instructions. Ultimately the most successful patients are those that practice moderation, both in their diet and exercise.

And One Extra Exercise Consideration

Swimming is a wonderful, low-impact exercise that uses virtually every muscle in the body. Swimming is particularly good for patients who are still in the weight loss phase and suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint condition due to their weight. However, you may notice that you are particularly hungry after swimming. This is not uncommon and is due to your lowered body temperature in the water; your body naturally wants to consume calories to warm itself up. However, indulging after a swim not only negates the exercise you just performed, but can also add hundreds of calories to your daily intake. If you swim as a go-to exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards, and avoid the temptation to eat right away. Re-evaluate your hunger about an hour after you and you exercise.

As bariatric patients we have to be mindful about getting our exercise in, but also managing potential risks of injury. A successful exercise regimen pushes your physical limits, while always keeping in mind our individual bodies and the best way to stay injury free.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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