Life After Surgery
One of the benefits of laparoscopic bariatric surgery is that patients return to normal activity relatively quick after surgery. The length of hospital stay is usually 24-48 hours. It also takes most people about a week to return to work and a month to six weeks to resume strenuous exercising. In the case of open surgery or if there are complications, recovery may take longer.
Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix. It’s an ongoing journey toward weight loss through long-term lifestyle changes. After surgery, the difference in your body makes it physically easier to adjust your eating and lifestyle habits. Fortunately, you will not have to go through the process alone. Our team will follow up with routine check-ups with your surgeon, ongoing band adjustments if necessary, support groups and nutritional classes.
Don’t forget, it is very possible to regain a significant amount of weight if you continue the lifestyle you had before your procedure! You will need to work closely with our team and communicate openly with us.
Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine is as important as following your nutrition plan. Often patients have been sedentary due to decreased activity tolerance, psychological constraints, and in some cases, physical disabilities. After surgery, aerobic activities, particularly walking and swimming are generally best tolerated. You will need to consult with your surgeon and weight-management team to find out which activity is right for you.
You should begin walking as early and as often as tolerated immediately after surgery. This should include a 5-10 minute warm-up. Depending on your health, the warm up may be all you can manage early on. Take it slow and gradually increase walking time up to 30-45 minutes of continuous walking daily if possible.
- Set a 6 week goal for walking time.
- Don’t worry about speed initially.
- Once you achieve the 45 minute walking plateau, gradually increase your walking pace.
- Generally 6 weeks post-op, it is considered safe to perform any exercise (including aerobics, bicycling, strength conditioning, etc.) At this point you should begin a strength conditioning program. In addition to the strength benefits, increasing your muscle mass will make them a more efficient calorie burner.
Long Term Exercise Program
- 30-45 minutes of continuous aerobic activity (walking, swimming, jogging, dancing, biking) 4-5 times per week
- 2-3 days per week of weight training.
Tips for Better Workouts
- Make sure you have quality shoes for your chosen activity.
- Start slowly. Doing too much too soon can lead to injuries.
- Try new activities. Doing the same thing can lead to plateaus and boredom.
- Be ready for exercise by eating right throughout the day and by staying hydrated.
- Always stretch both after you warm up and after your workout!
- If you’re sore or tired, give yourself extra recovery days if needed.
How to Begin
- Choose an activity that you enjoy. The best exercise for you is the one you’ll actually do!
- Start with 2 or 3 days of exercise with a rest day between workouts.
- Begin with a 5-10 minute warm up of light cardio and stretch the muscles you’ll use during your workout.
- Increase your pace and intensity to slightly harder than comfortable and exercise as long as you can.
- Begin where you ARE, not where you want to be. You may only be able to exercise for a few minutes at a time, but that will change quickly if you’re consistent.
- End each workout with a 5-minute cool down of light cardio and stretch the muscles you’ve worked to improve flexibility and reduce your chances of injury.
- Each week, increase your workout time by a few minutes until you can work continuously for 30 minutes.
- For the first few weeks, focus on endurance and conditioning. You have plenty of time to work on your speed and distance!
How Hard Should You Work?
When doing cardio, you should be within your target heart rate (THR) zone. Always be aware of how you feel when you exercise. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop immediately and rest or call your doctor. If you’re not breaking a sweat, speed it up!
Variety will keep your body and your mind challenged, so after the initial conditioning period (about 6 weeks of consistent workouts), vary your workout intensity and time. Each week, do a long slow workout (45-60) minutes at the lower end of your THR and one short one (20-30 minutes) at the higher end of your THR. Your other workouts can be between 30-45 minutes, in the middle of your THR.
Motivation: Key to Success
To work, the surgery needs your active participation. Your success will depend on you and the partnership between you and your medical team. We are here to support you through the changes with personal consultations, support groups and workshops.
If, at any time, you feel overwhelmed or otherwise need more assistance, please contact us. We will be glad to take the necessary steps to refer you to the best possible resolution.