Bariatric Fitness; Where Do I Start?
For overweight individuals who have had bariatric surgery or need to lose weight to be considered for surgery, physical fitness is essential. A healthy weight has a multitude of health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, depression, and more. For many though, the idea of starting a workout regiment to get to that healthy weight can be confusing and intimidating. From the clothes to the equipment to the exercises to the protein shakes, the world of exercising can seem too complex to even know where to begin.
Vita4Life cares about the bariatric community and helping those who want to live a healthier lifestyle. That is why, in addition to bariatric diet and supplement blogs, we will also be providing bariatric fitness blogs. We believe the best path to a healthy weight and overall lifestyle for bariatric patients includes a balance of proper dieting, supplementing, AND exercising. Our goal is to help the bariatric community in getting started and maintaining an effective workout routine and to make the world of physical fitness seem less daunting and more fun!
Future blog posts will include certain exercises that are great for overweight individuals. Today we will focus on starting a workout routine and where to begin. The following are bits of advice for overweight individuals to break into the world of physical fitness:
- Do Not Overdo It: The biggest piece of advice we can offer is to ease into exercising and to not overdo it. We have found that those who are new to working out can go too hard too fast which can burn you out and may lead to injury. That is a quick way to put your workout routine to a screeching halt and it is very difficult to get started again.
- Low Impact Exercises: You will want to start with low impact exercises. Running and heavy weightlifting can be very hard on the joints when the body is carrying excessive weight. If walking is too difficult, a great way to start is aqua jogging. Find a local pool where you can walk or jog in the water with a buoyancy belt and do laps back and forth. Each day, see if you can incrementally increase the length and speed of your walk. If you did 5 laps 3-4 days out of the week, see if you can do 7 the following week. As you progress, you will find your muscles and cardiovascular abilities will improve and you can go farther and faster. Eventually, you will be able to go for walks outside or on a treadmill where you can incrementally continue to improve. Bicycling and using the elliptical machine are great low impact exercises as well. In future blogs, we will explore more exercises to help get you started.
- Mix Cardio and Light Weight Lifting: The quickest way to lose weight through exercise is balancing cardio with strength building exercises. Cardio is great for burning calories but weightlifting requires muscles to rebuilt themselves following the workout which burns calories throughout the day. For overweight people just starting a workout routine, you will want to keep the weight lifting light at first and gradually increase the amount of weight and reps over time. In future blogs, we will go over some excellent light weight lifting exercises but for now, it is important to understand that cardio and strength building should go hand in hand for the best results.
- Stretch! Stretch! Stretch!!!: Begin EVERY exercise by stretching. Exercising without stretching will tighten the muscles too much. Muscles will overcompensate for other muscles and the body will get out of alignment which can be painful and WILL lead to injury. It is just as important to keep a nimble and flexible body as it is to exercise.
- Don’t Be Intimidated: Try not to be intimidated by others when joining a gym or when passing some runners while going for a walk around the neighborhood. You will come to find that the physical fitness community isn’t there to judge you. There is a comradery between everyone with a goal of improving the body and getting healthier. Most people will think it is great that you are out there trying to better yourself and are often willing to assist you if you have any questions.
- Make a Plan and Stick To It: You are going to have speed bumps on your physical fitness journey. There will be times when the last thing you want to do is get up and go exercise. The best way to get through that mentality is to set up a fitness routine and fitness goals. Write down a fitness plan for the week and goals you would like to achieve. For instance, if last week you were able to walk 15 minutes around the neighborhood 4 days out of the week, let’s set a goal of walking 20 minutes this time and the exact days you will be walking. Maybe set a goal that you will be able to walk 30 minutes 5 days a week by next month. Setting goals, having a plan, and sticking to it is the best way to keep improving physically. Eventually, you will find that you enjoy your workouts and it will feel weird if you don’t do them!
- Make Small Lifestyle Changes: Lastly, you will find there are a number of ways throughout the day that you can be more active. Maybe instead of taking the elevator, you decide to start taking the stairs. Instead of eating lunch at your desk at work, take a walk to a local park and eat there. Rather than sitting on the couch and watching TV, maybe take a few minutes to get up and do a good stretch. You will find that there are numerous ways to be more active in your daily routine and implementing those into your lifestyle will lead to a healthier weight!
We can’t stress enough the importance of incorporating a fitness routine into your daily life along with a healthy diet and supplementation following bariatric surgery. Again, we will be providing more bariatric exercises and tips in future blogs. We are excited to offer any advice we can to help you begin your fitness journey! Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.