Exercise Before and After Weight-Loss Surgery

Maintaining a fitness program before and after bariatric surgery puts you on the road to a healthy weight.

Days after Holli Dunayer-Shalvoy’s gastric bypass surgery in 2005, she ventured out onto the beachside boardwalk near her Long Beach, New York, home. Her first walks were short, but each day they got a little bit longer. Now, three years after her surgery and more than 120 pounds lighter, Dunayer-Shalvoy runs four miles every morning.

“You hear the doctors say, ‘You have to exercise,'” Dunayer-Shalvoy says. “I think it’s not a given that you’re going to do that. That is where you separate people and their will to succeed. I wanted it. I was hungry for a different life.”

Exercise Is Crucial for Weight-Loss Success

Exercise after gastric bypass surgery is critical for effective weight loss, says Christopher Still, DO, director of the Geisinger Obesity Institute in Danville, Pennsylvania, and a member of the Integrated Health program of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

“When we lose weight rapidly, we lose muscle,” Dr. Still says. “Muscle gauges and controls our metabolism. Exercise is a safe and effective way of maintaining lean body mass, which maintains metabolism and will facilitate [healthy] weight loss.”

A recent study reported in the journal Obesity found that of 190 patients who underwent bariatric surgery, 68 percent said that they became physically active in the year after the procedure — “active” defined as at least 200 minutes per week of walking or other moderate or vigorous exercise. The exercisers lost an average of 13.2 more pounds than inactive patients and also suffered from less depression and anxiety and had higher scores in general health.

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