This is a guest contribution by gastric sleeve (manga gástrica) surgeon, Dr. Javier Rojas.
When should you start exercising after weight loss surgery, and how far should you push yourself? This schedule should help you.
Right After Surgery: Take It Slow
It’s important to start gentle, slow walks the day after surgery. Remember: your body is still recovering, so it’s important to listen to your body and your medical team. Don’t walk for more than 15 minutes at a time.
After your initial appointment at the BMCC, you’ll meet with our exercise physiologists to assess your barriers to activity and develop an individualized, safe plan to regain activity without causing further damage to your back, joints, and the rest of your body. After surgery, you will start off walking around 20 minutes per day and gradually progress over the next 6-8 weeks toward your custom fitness goals, which will include cardio and resistance. However, you should generally avoid anything harder than walking until 6 weeks after surgery.
2-4 Weeks After Weight Loss Surgery: Light Exercise
Now that your body’s healing, you can start low-impact bariatric exercises. Leg lifts, hamstring stretches, shoulder rolls, and arm rotations can be great ways to build strength and flexibility. You can also start going on longer walks, or walking more quickly.
Exercising 1-2 Months After Weight Loss Surgery: Cardio
As your body continues to heal and strengthen, it’s important to build to moderate cardio workouts. Cycling and water workouts are both great exercises after bariatric surgery that are easier on your joints than running. You should start aiming to work out 5 days a week, for 30 minutes per day and build from there.
At any point if you experience chest pain or tightness while exercising it is important to stop immediately and call a doctor.
It’s still important to listen to your body. When you’re doing cardio, don’t sprint; you should be able to talk comfortably while working out. But, if you can sing while you’re doing any bariatric exercise, you may not be pushing yourself hard enough.
Exercising 6 Weeks After Weight Loss Surgery: Strength Training
At this point, it’s important to start adding strength training to your workout routine at least 2 days per week.
Squats and lunges are great bariatric exercises. So is lifting weights. Bear in mind, it’s important to only go until you feel a burn. Stop if you feel sharp pain.
At this point, you should be doing cardio training regularly 5 days a week, between half an hour and an hour each time. Aim to add at least two of your strength training bariatric workouts per week. However, don’t target the same muscle groups back to back.
As you progress, you’ll need to keep pushing yourself physically. That’s because your body will adapt to exercises, so the same bariatric exercise won’t burn as many calories as it did three months ago.