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Exercise after Bariatric Surgery

We all need regular exercise to keep our bodies healthy and it is no secret that exercise is the key to weight loss as well. Regular exercise not only burns calories but also boosts the basal metabolic rate which means that you utilise more energy while resting as well. Exercise strengthens muscles and the cardiovascular systems, improves immunity and releases endorphins which elevate mood and can protect against ageing and cancer as well.

It is very important to understand that exercise is required after weight loss surgery as well. It should begin on the very first day after surgery and be incorporated into the daily routine so that it becomes a habit. Initially, while in the hospital, the patient is encouraged to be up and about once the pain of surgery has subsided. They are told to move in their rooms as well as in the hospital lobby and other open areas to get their blood pumping. Light exercise like walking on level ground for 15-20 minutes per day is encouraged in the first 2 weeks. Patients are told to count their steps using a pedometer or a similar device and should aim for 4000-5000 steps in a day. After a fortnight, the patients the told to increase their physical activity and introduce more aerobic exercises in their routine. These include jogging, cycling, swimming, skipping, etc. and would increase the calorie expenditure. The combined effects of reduced calorie intake and increased metabolic rate because of bariatric surgery coupled with increased energy expenditure of aerobic exercise would help in fat burning and cause rapid weight loss.

After 6-8 weeks of bariatric surgery, the first phase of rapid weight loss gradually starts waning and solid food items are resumed into the diet. It is at this point that patients are told to change their exercise pattern and introduce modest weight training into their regime. Weight training would stimulate muscle growth, increase basal metabolic rate further and would prevent the plateau of weight loss which patients experience at this stage. Moreover, it would also prevent muscle wasting and toned up muscles would minimise the skin sagging and adverse cosmetic effects of rapid weight loss.

It is of paramount importance that regular exercise be incorporated into the regime to have a healthy weight loss. The change in diet and effect of hormones often provides the patients with a heightened energy level which can be channelled properly to achieve the desired result.