Best Exercise for Bariatric Surgery

What Is the Best Type of Bariatric Exercise?

August 14, 2019 / Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul

If you’ve made up your mind to get bariatric surgery, you must also make a commitment to change the way you eat and exercise. If not, you will struggle to achieve long-term weight loss.

Patients who adopt physically active lifestyles post-surgery tend to have the highest levels of long-term success. Bariatric exercise can greatly improve your quality of life, but it’s vital that you approach it the right way.


How Soon Can You Start Exercising After Surgery?

Exercise After Bariatric Surgery


Immediately after surgery, your body will need a few weeks to recover. As such, you’ll need to ease into your new exercise routine. Let’s look at an exercise timeline to keep you on track.


Immediately after surgery

Recovery Exercise After Surgery

Take it slow in the beginning. Your body will still be recovering from the surgery, and you likely won’t have the energy or strength to push yourself very hard physically.

Following the post bariatric surgery diet plan to the T, try to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Over the next 6 – 8 months you’ll slowly increase this limit as you build your strength. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel any significant pain, stop what you’re doing immediately and try again later.


2 – 4 weeks after surgery

Low-Impact Bariatric Exercise

Two to four weeks in, your body should have healed enough for low-impact bariatric exercises that are designed to improve flexibility and strength. These include shoulder rolls, leg lifts, arm rotations, and hamstring stretches.

Your body likely won’t be ready for jogging quite yet, but power walking or going for longer walks in general are viable options.


1 – 2 months after surgery

Cardio Exercise

You should now have the strength to engage in moderate cardio workout routines, such as light jogging and cycling.

Everyone heals at a different rate, so make sure you’re still listening to your body. If you feel aches and pains, slow down or stop to take a break. If you feel like you can handle more, slightly increase the intensity.


Six weeks and beyond after surgery

Strength Training

Your body should be ready for strength training about six weeks post-surgery. Try to aim for at least two days per week minimum of strength training.

If your aim is to build muscle, incorporate light weight lifting. Lighter dumbbells (5 lb. or 10 lb. dumbbells for example), are a great place to start as you continue building strength.

Strength training can be tricky for bariatric patients because a balance must be struck between taking it easy, and building strength. Everyone’s tolerance levels are different, so try to find your limits through controlled workout routines.

In addition to strength training, you should also be focusing on cardio at least five days a week for 30 min to 1-hour sessions. Over time increase the intensity of your workout sessions to burn more calories.



Additional tips for developing an effective exercise plan

Effective Exercise Plan

  • If able, take your dog with you on your daily walks/jogs.
  • Wear comfortable workout clothes.
  • Make sure to dress appropriately so you are comfortable and protected from the weather.  Click here for more summer tips for bariatric exercise
  • Having trouble finding the motivation to exercise every day? Try a change of scenery by walking around the mall, swimming, or dancing.
  • Skip the elevator and use the stairs instead.
  • Find an exercise partner who will motivate you (and who you can motivate in turn).
  • Create a weekly exercise plan and stick to it religiously.
  • Listen to motivational music to keep you going.
  • Park far from your destination to give you an excuse to walk further.



The Benefits of Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery

Cardio Exercise Group

Bariatric surgery is no magic bullet. You must supplement it with daily exercise to ensure you live a long and healthy life. Thankfully, the benefits of bariatric surgery are numerous and well worth your time and energy.


Benefits of regular exercise include:


1) Increases energy levels

Increased Energy Levels

Exercising regularly enhances your immune system, improves your blood sugar levels, and strengthens your heart. Because our bodies are made to move, it’s only natural that you would gain more energy as you get your blood pumping through exercise.

As your energy levels increase over time, simple day-to-day activities such as grocery shopping and playing with your children will become less strenuous.


2) Improves mental health

Improved Mental Health

Obesity is generally looked down upon across the United States. People who struggle with their weight are often stigmatized, and as a result low self-esteem is common place. Even when a patient undergoes bariatric surgery, they may still have to deal with the stigma of “taking the easy way out.”

Regular exercise produces endorphins, boosting your confidence levels and allowing you to focus on your weight loss goals despite the naysayers. In addition, you’ll find that exercise is an excellent way to combat anxiety and depression.


3) Improves quality of life

Quality of Life

Exercise can improve your quality of life in a number of ways. It helps you to develop stronger bones, muscles, and lungs. It can lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of developing cancer, and improve insulin control. You’ll be more likely to participate in activities with your family and friends. In addition, exercise improves your appearance, and can even enhance libido.



Final Thoughts

Bariatric Exercise


Weight loss surgery is only one part of your weight loss journey. Even if you’ve tried and failed to exercise and lose weight prior to your surgery we urge you to keep trying. Through hard work and perseverance, you can reclaim your health.

Lasting weight loss is also contingent on quality aftercare. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, don’t hesitate to reach out to Olde Del Mar Surgical.

Professional and staffed by a caring team, Olde Del Mar Surgical is known for both its surgical excellence and comprehensive post-surgical follow up care. If you’re ready to move forward with your life contact us today for more information.


Schedule Your Consultation Today



Posted in Exercise and Fitness, Support Resources, Weight Loss