Exercise is something that is often overlooked or hard to come by for overweight or obese patients. Lots of people have medical equipment, mobility limitations, or physical pain which can keep them from starting an exercise routine. Diet is obviously important; but exercise is critical for consistent weight loss, maintaining lean muscle mass/ bone health, and maintaining good posture while one’s body composition is changing rapidly after weight loss surgery.

Most activities are broken down into key groups known as either aerobic/cardiovascular or “cardio” or resistance training using body weight or added weights. Both types of exercise are important; but they are used for different purposes. Aerobic exercise/Cardio is more important for burning calories from fat; while strength training is more focused on toning and defining certain muscle groups as well as gaining strength.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 250 minutes of moderate intensity exercise weekly; this means we need about 30 minutes of aerobic/cardio activity 7 days a week. EVERYDAY! They also recommend 2-3 days of resistance exercise to help support muscle and bone health. To some this may not seem like a huge task; but some people have a lot of restrictions or limitations when it comes to exercise.

I often find that people with exercise limitations have never met with a physical therapist in the past. Just about everyone has gone to have adjustments done at the chiropractic clinic; but that is not a long-term fix, only a Band-Aid. Physical therapists have a doctorate level of education designed to help people get their strength and mobility back even if they are limited in the type of activity they can do. Weight loss surgery patients need to get started in an exercise program as soon as possible. Physical therapists can help with finding exercises well suited for you; and they can help to safely get you back into exercise without further risk of injury. As a dietitian at Roller Weight Loss & Advanced Surgery, I find myself referring patients to physical therapy every week; and many have seen some great results!

I would recommend seeing a physical therapist if you have limitations but still need to focus on increasing your physical activity/exercise to help you have a successful weight loss surgery journey. They can help you get your strength and mobility back; and that can open the way for all sorts of activities as you progress. I always say, “you cannot out run your fork”, meaning that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. But, if you are not exercising, you probably won’t lose as much weight as you would like or maintain your current weight loss as well as you would like. Don’t let muscle or joint pain stop you from being active during your weight loss journey. Meet with your primary care doctor and see what options you have for physical therapy in your area.

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