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Bariatric Surgery & Exercise – Blog By Christie Mellerick ( Exercise Physiologist)

Bariatric surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach with either a gastric sleeve, through removal of a portion of the stomach (lap sleeve gastrectomy) or gastric bypass surgery. Long term studies identify the procedure as the cause of long term weight loss as well as improving the profiles of chronic conditions such as diabetes, decreasing associated cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research has also shown that additional to the association of bariatric surgery and long term weight loss, those who have undergone bariatric surgery have significantly reduced mortality rates and reduction of associated risks of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, endocrinological disorders, musculoskeletal issues, infectious diseases and respiratory conditions (Christou et al., 2004).


Importance of exercise post Bariatric surgery

To optimise your bariatric surgery an appropriate exercise routine is just as important as a well balanced diet. Exercise for patients post bariatric surgery can lead to further measureable health improvements such as weight loss, decreased load on joints, reduction of risk factors and overall improved wellbeing. Not only can exercise enhance your health outcomes post bariatric surgery it can promote and maintain weight loss whilst maintaining and increasing muscle strength.

In a study conducted by Coleman et al., (2016) it was found that those who engaged in a combined exercise program for 6months following surgery displayed improvements in health outcomes. The combined program incorporated both structured group exercise classes and home exercise programs. Participants who engaged in this model displayed improvements across the following; aerobic capacity (6-minute walk test), strength (arm curl), balance, mobility, coordination (timed up and go) and flexibility (sit and reach).

Exercise guidelines 2-4 weeks post surgery

At this stage after surgery you should be walking daily in aim of achieving 30minutes per day. You may begin with some low impact mobility and strength exercises and increase walking duration as tolerated. Exercises such as single leg raises, hamstring stretches and shoulder rolls are a good way to increase flexibility at your joints and muscles.

Exercise guidelines 4-6 weeks post surgery

During this stage after your bariatric surgery it is important to begin building up your cardio exercise and begin incorporating strength exercises. Strength/resistance based training at least twice a week can assist in weight loss, as well as maintaining and increasing muscle strength for healthy bones and joints. Research has shown that implementing an exercise program consisting of aerobic, strength and flexibility components was most effective for improving patients’ functional status post bariatric surgery (Coleman et al., 2016).

Guidance from a Professional

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) can assist you in optimising your health outcomes post bariatric surgery by providing you with a structured and tailored exercise program best suited to you. An AEP can help you with some of your specific needs post bariatric surgery, some examples may include:

  • Arthritis or joint pain that has not been relieved by initial weight loss
  • Poor mobility and/or flexibility which may be limiting your activity levels
  • An understanding of specific metabolic changes following bariatric surgery and exercise prescription that is suitable
  • Peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes as a result of poor glycaemic control before surgery, resulting in poor balance and control
  • Loss of muscle and bone density associated with rapid weight loss
  • Exercise prescription suitable for diet specific to bariatric patients post surgery.

If you are ready to transform your life and optimise your health outcomes post bariatric surgery, get started today and make an appointment at Total Physiocare with our Accredited Exercise Physiologist by contacting one of our clinics.

Book an appointment today for your assessment!

Blog by Christie Mellerick (Exercise Physiologist)