Adjusting to Activity after Weight Loss Surgery
Although you’ll need to introduce exercise to your routine slowly after weight loss surgery to avoid injury, light activity can be beneficial during your recovery. With time, your body will be able to handle more exercise, but it’s important not to do too much too fast.
Follow all instructions given to you by Dr. Taylor and remember that everyone who gets bariatric surgery is different. The guide below cannot take your individual needs into account, but will offer a look at what level of activity may be appropriate as your body heals. Remember to always pay attention to what your body is telling you—if you feel fatigued, nauseated or out of breath, it’s time to take a break. If you have any questions, be sure to ask Dr. Taylor.
Remember: you should avoid any activity that requires heavy lifting or use of your abdominal muscles until six to eight weeks after bariatric surgery. You should not lift anything above 20 pounds, including children, groceries and things lifted while doing chores like laundry and work.
Your body will need to rest. You will likely get tired quickly during your initial recovery and shouldn’t try to push yourself beyond short walks and simple activities. Every one to two hours, try to take a 5-minute walk or engage in a very light chore like retrieving the mail, cooking or simply taking a few minutes to stand and stretch your legs. You may shower but should not bathe for 6 weeks to avoid straining your abdominal muscles while getting in and out of the tub.
Weeks Two and Three
As your recovery continues, your body will become more capable of handling exercise. You should pay close attention to your energy levels and reaction to each activity, but can start increasing the lengths of your walks (to about 10 minutes) and adding simple housework to your daily routine. During this time, you can also continue practicing deep breathing and coughing exercises, just as you did before surgery.
Weeks Four through Eight
By this time, your body will have likely made significant strides in its recovery. You should be able to continue increasing your walking intervals. Aim to walk about two miles per day by week eight if your body is able. You may also be ready to start incorporating other low-impact activities like cycling, swimming and gardening, but should ask Dr. Taylor if you have any concerns about starting more strenuous exercises. Be sure your incision has healed completely before swimming.
Week Nine and After
Continue to increase the length of your walking workouts, still aiming for two or more miles a day. You can split your workout time into chunks and incorporate other basic aerobic exercises, but your sessions should add up to about 30 minutes. It may also be a good idea to begin adding basic resistance exercises to your routine, as these will help you strengthen your body as you lose excess weight. Try using dumbbells and resistance bands—just remember not to overdo it.
As time passes, you should continue to update your daily workout goal, aiming for about three miles a day by the fourth month and four miles by the sixth month. When six months have passed, you may be able to handle other activities like yoga and dancing, but should always check with Dr. Taylor before jumping into anything strenuous.