As you embark on your weight loss journey, it’s natural to have questions and concerns about what activities you can safely participate in. When it comes to exercising after gastric sleeve, the good news is that with the right guidance and gradual progression, you can build up strength and stamina to support your weight loss goals.
Regular physical activity can help improve your overall health, boost your energy levels, and enhance your mood. However, it’s crucial that you implement your exercise plan cautiously because listening to your body can help you succeed on your lifetime weight loss journey.
This article will guide you through exercises during recovery, where to start, how to build strength gradually, and get some useful hints on how to truly benefit from staying active after the procedure. Having a positive attitude and sticking to a well-prepared exercise plan will make you achieve your weight loss goals and start your healthy lifestyle after the surgery.
Why is it crucial to exercise after gastric sleeve surgery?
There are many reasons exercising after gastric sleeve surgery is crucial in your weight loss journey:
- Supporting your weight loss: Regular sports activities will burn calories and build up your muscles, as well as improve your overall sense of well-being.
- Boosting up your energy: Regular exercises are going to make you feel more energetic and improve your overall health.
- Lightening up your mood: Sports activities have a positive influence on your mental health and may help you in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Improving your healing process: Exercising might help you get better circulation, decrease inflammation, and support the recovery process after the procedure.
- Helping you keep your healthy weight: Staying active will keep you from regaining your weight and help you maintain your healthy weight not only temporarily but in the long term.
How soon after the gastric sleeve can I exercise?
Most doctors suggest avoiding strenuous exercises such as cardio, pilates, and weight lifting for 6 to 8 weeks until you fully recover. Still, each patient is unique and your doctor can inform you when it’s safe to incorporate different exercises into your routine.
However, being physically active starts right after your surgery. Although you may only want to rest, doing very low-impact exercises such as walking, and climbing stairs will keep you moving and help prevent the formation of blood clots.
Exercising will be part of your daily routine, but before that consider a light workout for the beginning and gradually enhance the variety of activities. Don’t push yourself too much too soon. Always prioritize your recovery first.
What would be the best exercise after gastric sleeve?
Keep in mind that the best activities after your gastric sleeve surgery are the ones that are gentle on your joints and give you aerobic workouts, as well as improve your overall strength. You may start with some light activities such as walking, mild running, and yoga.
An exercise plan that is well-designed is going to help you lose weight, give you better quality sleep, and lift up your mood while avoiding injury. As time passes, you will be able to do every kind of physical activity, including CrossFit, pilates, swimming, weight lifting, and HIIT cardio.
Start with walking/jogging
It is nothing unusual to feel uncomfortable during your post-op recovery period, immediately after your gastric sleeve surgery. On the other hand, light physical exercise like gentle, slow walking for 5-10 minutes per day, will be really useful to help you be active and decrease the post-surgery risk of complications. You can repeat it twice a day.
Even before being discharged from the hospital, you need to walk and climb the stairs. You may do it on your own or the hospital staff can help you. You can then slowly increase your physical activity with time, and even jog at a bit later stage as a part of your exercise routine. The most important thing to remember is that your body is in the recovery process, so always pay attention to your doctor’s advice, listen to your body, and do not overload yourself.
Yoga will help you mentally and physically
Along with walking and jogging, you may then try some light yoga, which is a low-impact exercise. It is a great way to improve your flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It’s crucial after the operation when you need to work on your physical strength and overall mobility, which is going to help you decrease the risk of injuries.
Along with walking and jogging, you may then try some very light yoga, which is a great way to become more aware of your body. It can make you start feeling in control. Light yoga is not as intense as other exercises but is definitely going to help you adjust your muscles to be physically active when you are in your recovery process.
Yoga makes your core muscles stronger and is a great form of stretching. It may also help you create a healthy relationship between your mind and body. It requires deep breathing, which is extremely beneficial for improving your lung capacity. Remember to include these light exercises from 2 up to 4 weeks after your gastric sleeve surgery. Always consult with a doctor to make sure your wounds are healed and it is safe.
High heart rate with cardio exercises
Regular cardio-aerobic activities, aka cardiovascular exercises, have lots of benefits. They give you more energy and may improve your sleep. It is also known for being beneficial for heart health. Cardio can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing after surgery, which can help speed up your recovery and improve your overall quality of life.
As a cardio exercise, you can go for a run, you may consider jogging in place or biking. The main point of these exercises is to keep your heart rate high for a long time to supply your muscles with energy. This will supplement your weight loss and is good for the overall health of your heart.
Remember that right after the surgery only walking is recommended, then activities like light running, hiking, and biking may also be included within 6 to 8 upcoming weeks after the operation. It is recommended to do your cardio workout at least two days a week.
Gently build strength by swimming
Swimming is a low-impact exercise, which means it puts less stress on your joints, bones, and muscles compared to high-impact activities like running or jumping. This makes it a good option during recovery or for people who have joint pain or mobility issues. Swimming can also be a great way to get moving and exercise after gastric sleeve surgery as the water buoyancy can reduce stress on incisions and abdominal muscles, making it easier to move.
It is also a full-body workout that can help improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility. It’s a great way to engage your arms, legs, and core, which can help you build overall fitness and support your weight loss goals.
How long after the gastric sleeve can you swim? You will be able to swim when your wounds are properly healed and there is no risk of infection anymore. It’s going to happen after approximately 2 to 4 weeks following your weight loss surgery.
You may consider CrossFit
Start adding high-impact and high-intensity activities like CrossFit, which can be great exercises in your post-gastric sleeve sport plan. Still, it’s important to wait until your body fully recovers. It’s generally suggested to wait at least 6 months after the procedure before you aim for any kind of high-intensity workout.
CrossFit may be a wonderful way to boost your weight loss. It has both cardio and light weights exercises for a high-intensity workout, which may help you lose fat and build up your muscles. Keep in mind you need to listen to your body and start slowly, gradually increasing the intensity of your exercise plan.
Weightlifting for gaining muscle and burning fat
If you wish to add weightlifting to your post-gastric sleeve surgery routine, it’s essential that you check in with your doctor first. Remember that weightlifting may be physically demanding, so it’s important to start it slowly and gradually increase both the intensity and time dedicated to your workouts.
When you combine good nutrition with weightlifting, it can have many benefits after your sleeve gastrectomy. This includes building up your muscles and improving their strength. When you have more muscle mass they fill out your loose skin and also support your bones. (1)
Keep in mind that weightlifting isn’t a requirement when it comes to your exercise routine. It’s completely up to you to add it to your preferred sports activities. You may as well continue with your existing exercise plan or explore other forms of sports if you want. It’s crucial to find what works best for you during your post-surgery healing process.
If you want to get your muscles in shape
You may wonder if it’s possible to get a six-pack after your sleeve gastrectomy. It might sound like a distant goal, but it is actually possible if you stay consistent with your diet and exercise routine.
If you are one of them, you can achieve it with enough consistency, and discipline, and after some period of time following the surgery. You must remember though that the most important thing for you is to fully recover from the surgery and gradually build your strength, step by step at a time.
In order to get the best results you may have, it’s crucial to focus on a balanced diet, rich in protein and fiber. What you eat is definitely going to help your muscles in their efficient growth. You also need to include some weightlifting and cardio exercises in your weekly routine. You may add some activities for your core strength, such as planks, too. (2)
Approximately 6 up to 8 weeks following your surgery, you may start including abs-focused exercises into your activities routine. Start with some lighter weights and gradually increase their intensity. A wide range of exercises, such as squats, lunges, chest, and back exercises, might also help you achieve a six-pack look in time.
Keep in mind that working on your abdominal exercises is a long-term and challenging process. For men, a body fat percentage of around 12% is necessary to achieve a six-pack. For women, it’s around 15%. It’s important to emphasize though that in the case of women it’s not healthy to have a body fat percentage that low. It may disrupt hormones and, as a result, even shut down the reproductive system. We always advise prioritizing your health and well-being over any aesthetic goals.
(1) Tabesh MR, Maleklou F, Ejtehadi F, Alizadeh Z. Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Prescription of Supplements in Pre- and Post-bariatric Surgery Patients: a Practical Guideline. Obes Surg. 2019 Oct;29(10):3385-3400. doi: 10.1007/s11695-019-04112-y. Erratum in: Obes Surg. 2020 Feb;30(2):793. PMID: 31367987.
(2) Billing-Bullen G, Nielsen D, Wham C, Kruger R. Enablers and barriers to prevent weight-regain post bariatric surgery – A qualitative enquiry. Eat Behav. 2022 Dec;47:101677. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2022.101677. Epub 2022 Oct 6. PMID: 36252389.