Following post-bariatric surgery, it’s vital to get active. Here are some fitness tips to consider when you’re ready to start:

Start simple

Your body has just been through a major surgery. It’s natural to want to ramp up quickly, but try to fight this urge. The most important thing with post-bariatric patients is that you need to start slow and gradually work up to higher intensities as your body tolerates. Many of these patients have been very inactive for a long time, so starting off with exercises while sitting or lying down may be appropriate and then they can advance to exercises in standing or more cardiovascular types of exercise.

Some people get caught up in the idea that they have to go to the gym and lift weights for it to be exercise. But doing things around the house can be a good way to improve your strength and overall cardiovascular fitness. Just lifting the weight of your own arm or leg may be enough to start with. Do 10 reps and then gradually increase to 30 as you begin to tolerate more. Bottles of water can substitute as arm weights as you get stronger. For patients that had very low activity levels prior to surgery, sometimes just standing in place can be a form of exercise. Incorporating longer periods of standing into daily activities such as dressing, cooking, etc. can be good ways to increase your activity level and get you back into a more active lifestyle. Practicing sit to stands in a taller chair at home and then progressing to a lower chair is also a good functional activity that really works on strengthening their lower extremities.

Consider cardio

If you’ve mastered in-home exercise and feel you’re ready to take on something more challenging, try walking or water aerobics. Depending on your prior activity level, you may want to start out with very short distance walks and then just gradually increase the distance as long as you can tolerate it. The easiest and one of the best and most functional forms of cardio is just walking.

If you have access to a pool, then walking in the water or exercising in the water is a great way to start exercising without putting a lot of extra stress on the joints. Many gyms now have aquatic aerobics classes where they have an instructor taking them through an exercise program in the water. Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – White Rick offers arthritis aquatics classes where they teach low level water exercise programs are taught by an Arthritis Foundation Certified instructor. The program costs $50 per month. To register call 214-324-6549.

Recumbent exercisers such as a recumbent bicycle or a Nustep are also great choices for cardio exercises if you have access to it.

Listen to your body

If something hurts then don’t do it. Find a way that you can modify the exercise so that you can do it with minimal to no pain. This is not a “no pain, no gain” situation.

Pay attention to your joints

Many patients have joint problems due to obesity, so you need to make sure that you find a way to exercise that doesn’t exacerbate any joint pains that you may have. If you know that you have specific pain in any area, you may want to consult your primary physician and get a prescription for physical therapy so that a therapist can show you specific exercises for the area that will increase endurance without increasing your pain.