Alabama Bariatrics & Minimally Invasive Surgery

Bariatric Diet Orbera Gastric Band Sleeve Gastrectomy Gastric Bypass

W. Jay Suggs, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Huntsville & Decatur
Phone: (256) 274-4523
Fax: (256) 203-8791

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The Importance of Exercise after Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is an extreme procedure to go through. It is a massive undertaking that requires medical scrutiny, counseling, lifestyle changes, and patience beforehand. But that journey doesn't stop once the surgery is over.  There is still the recovery process, and most importantly the task of keeping the weight off. This is where the importance of exercise cannot be stressed enough. 

But how many people actually know the importance of exercise after weight loss surgery? Is keeping the weight off the only reason that people who went through weight loss surgery should exercise regularly? Today, we are going to talk about other reasons why it is important to exercise after weight loss surgery and what steps you need to take to start an exercise program.

Exercise Changes your Mood for the Better

People forget that their brains are organs that function with the presence or lack of certain chemicals. Without the natural Oxycontin, for instance, we would not be able to feel passion towards another human being or a general sense of happiness around our own children. And without endorphins, we can't push through the obstacles in life that give us pain. Ultimately, these chemicals truly dictate how we feel about certain things, and if they aren't in balance, then our emotions would run amok. 

Exercise, helps us balance our brain chemicals to an extent. When we go through something particularly challenging, our brain rewards us by boosting feel-good chemicals into our bodies.  The presence of these chemicals is what causes us to naturally feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. This results in a decrease in chances for things like anxiety, depression, and stress.  While sometimes medication is needed to relieve more extreme cases of anxiety or depression symptoms, that does not mean that this can't be a good supplement. 

Exercise Strengthens the Body

Regular exercise does much more than weight management. In fact, it has several ways in which it benefits our bodies in a physical way. 

For instance, did you know that regular physical activity strengthens the bones? According to Myfitnesspal.com, "Weight-bearing (high- or low-impact) and muscle-strengthening exercises build and strengthen the bones as well as the muscles that surround them. Non impact exercises like yoga or tai chi can improve balance, posture, and flexibility, which may reduce exercise-related injuries."

It also does wonders for your heart, a muscle that works double if not triple time to make sure that your blood is flowing and your cardiovascular system is working to send oxygen to all parts of the body. 

It can also shake your bowels loose, decreasing the attachment of waste in your colon, small, and large intestines. While they do wiggle on their own to make sure that your digestive system keeps moving, it also doesn't hurt to give it a little help now and again. 

And as a byproduct of all of those systems in motion, that means that your glucose levels will also naturally regulate itself. This prevents and reduces the dangerous impact of things like diabetes, types of metabolic cancers, and stroke. 

Exercise Improves your Life All Around

One of the major issues that come with obesity that is often not talked about is sleep apnea. It is a condition characterized by shallow or sometimes outright lack of breathing during sleep. Sometimes this leads to waking up several times a night and a weakened immune system. Other times, this leads to brain damage and even death if it severe enough. This is due to the lack of oxygen intake which deprives the brain of the oxygen it needs every night when you sleep. 

However, regular exercise encourages your body to get the proper sleep it needs. This is thanks to the hormones that your body sends to your brain after a workout, giving it a cue that it is time to rest. If you wait an hour or two after a workout, your body will feel the urge to go limp and relax. 

Regular exercise also naturally decreases appetite. Why this works as an appetite suppressant is beyond some people. Maybe all the work from the exercise is enough to motivate people into making better food choices? Who is to say.

Basic Exercise Guide for Post Weight Loss Surgery 

When you have gone through a major procedure so quickly, there is an almost 100% guarantee that you are going to wind up sore, bruised, and not wanting to move.  While it is certainly unwise to jump out of the hospital bed and go for a run after your weight loss surgery, you need to get moving as soon as possible. This is for the sake of your joints, metabolism, and mental state, after all. 

According to Obesityaction.org, there are certain milestones that you need to hit if you want to start and keep a healthy lifestyle. After all, exercise combined with a sensible diet will keep your body in the best shape it can be, given the circumstance.  So, what is a good plan to set in motion?

You might need to go to a doctor for the specifics. Each patient is different and complications do happen depending on the circumstances surrounding the procedure in the first place. 

Generally :

1.    Right after surgery, you want to take it slow. The last thing you want to do is irritate the incision and disrupt recovery. Take slow gentle walks for 15 minutes at a time. Think of yourself as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill in this scenario. Wiggle your big toe and go from there. 

2.    2 to 4 weeks after surgery, you can start to do a little more. Focus more on low impact things like stretching. You can also walk either a little faster or for longer periods of time. 

3.    At 1 to 2 months you can add on the intensity with a little cardio. It would be prudent to stick to water exercises or cycling to keep it easier on your joints. You can start working out at thirty minutes a day for 5 days a week.

4.    3 months after weight loss surgery, you can start working on building muscle with strength training. You should be able to do squats and lunges as well as weight lifting at least twice a week on top of your cardio training. Don't work on the same set of muscles twice in a row and listen to your body. 

Conclusion

Exercise is imperative for your body, mind, and lifestyle.  Without it, you will not be able to have the energy to do the things you love with the important people in your life. If you want to know how to start an exercise program after weight loss surgery or to keep it going, contact Dr. Suggs. 

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