Exercise Prep: Warming Up and Cooling Down

Exercise prep after weight loss surgery for lap band, gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomyEven after weight loss surgery, exercise is a big component of living a healthy lifestyle. While your weight loss procedure will set you up with the tools to eat less, exercise offers other benefits that a healthy diet doesn’t. Whether you underwent Lap Band surgery, gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy procedure, it is wise to get in action and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle once you are fully recovered.

A few benefits of exercise include:

  • Increases your energy
  • Relieves stress
  • Burns fat
  • Improves your health, including your blood pressure levels
  • Enhances your immune system
  • Strengthens bones, muscles and joints

After bariatric surgery it is important to increase your exercise slowly. Especially right after weight loss surgery, you will still be carrying a lot of excess weight. This makes it difficult for your body to move around a lot, which adds intensity to even a simple workout. The upside of this is that you can start out with simple workouts and the intensity your excess weight offers will help you burn calories and give you a heads-start in the weight loss process.

Don’t start any workout plan without clearance from your weight loss surgeon first. Once you are OK’d to start exercising, don’t forget to warm up and cool off.

Warming Up

The stretches done before a workout are called warm ups because of how the activities affect your muscles. When you start working out, your muscles will get pretty hot. It isn’t a good idea to go straight from being sedentary into an activity like brisk walking. Spend about five or 10 minutes doing simple activities that will get your heart pumping a little bit and warm up your muscles so you decrease your risk for an injury.

Good warm up activities include:

  • Moving your arms in circles
  • Swinging your arms
  • Marching in place

Your warm-up activities should be done slowly and rhythmically. Warm up activities can be good exercises on their own, especially when you’re feeling stressed and are unable to go for a long walk—like when you’re at work. Especially if you’ve reacted to stress with emotional eating in the past, try marching in place for one minute the next time you’re feeling upset. The rush of blood flow may help to calm your nerves.

Cooling Down

After an activity, it is a good idea to cool down before sitting down on the couch and resting. Just as you gradually warm your muscles up for your workout, you will want to give them the chance to gradually cool down. When you are exercising your heart will begin to beat faster, which will increase your blood flow. If you stop working out suddenly, then your blood pressure may drop suddenly, and blood may pool in your arms and legs. This could cause you to feel fatigued or dizzy.

Cooling down can be integrated easily into any type of workout. For example, if you went walking for 25 minutes at a steady brisk pace, walk an extra five minutes at a slower pace to cool down. If you swam laps as your workout, then spend a few extra minutes in the pool just moving your arms and legs in the water until you catch your breath.

To increase your flexibility you can try stretching after your workout as you cool down:

  1. When you are targeting a particular muscle, slowly stretch into a position until you feel the muscle become tight.
  2. Make sure not to push too far so that the stretch becomes painful.
  3. Hold that pose for 10 to 15 seconds, and don’t pulse since that can cause a muscle to stretch too far and become injured.
  4. When you release a stretch, wait at least five seconds before starting another one.

Stretching your muscles in this way can help you to relax after your workout and relieve soreness so you are ready to work out again tomorrow.

Before starting any form of workout plan it is best to check in with your weight loss surgeon. Starting to exercise too soon after your surgery could result in an injury or delayed healing, which will just leave you away from activity for even longer. If you have any questions about exercising, ask your weight loss surgeon.