Exercising After Weight Loss Surgery The Dos and Donts

If you’ve undergone a weight loss surgery or are considering it, you must be aware ahead of time that your main responsibility after this surgical procedure will be to adopt lifestyle changes if you want to have long-term success.

One of the absolute best ways to maintain the desired weight once achieved is to incorporate regular exercise into your daily life. Being physically active and exercising plays a key role in helping patients improve mobility, achieve long-term success in their goals for weight loss, and live a healthy life.

Reading this at first you might get overwhelmed, but by working with your bariatric surgeon, a fitness professional, or by checking forums such as Bariatric Pal, you can find the needed support to motivate you to continue on the path to recovery and realize your weight-loss efforts.

Below, we list the things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to exercising after weight loss surgery.

Important Tips Before You Start Exercising

After returning home from the hospital, it’s important to remain physically active. Walking and doing simple chores at home are suitable activities to start with. Walking up the stairs is also a good idea. Every person is different so there’s no general rule of thumb on how much a person can handle after surgery. A large part of your energy is used for healing, which can limit your movement for some time.

Slowly, you will feel how your strength and energy gradually improve and you must move as much as you can. Gradually increase your level of physical activity and listen to your body’s signals. If the body signals fatigue, dizziness, pain, or other discomforts, take a break and rest for a while. As soon as you feel ready, you can start the exercise program.

Important Tips Before You Start Exercising

First Weeks Following Surgery

As we mentioned before, as soon as you get home from the hospital, you’re encouraged to start with some light movement like daily short walks that you can gradually make longer. One month after the surgery, you can start almost all activities, e.g. light gym exercises, brisk walking, swimming, or aqua aerobics (as soon as the wounds heal).

If you want to start with more intense and strenuous training such as martial arts, heavy weight lifting, or contact sports where tackles and falls are included, it is recommended that you contact your surgeon or doctor for advice. Sometimes a longer healing time and a gradual adjustment to more strenuous and intense activities are needed.

Cardio Exercises 1-2 Months After Weight Loss Surgery

As your body continues on its journey of healing and becoming stronger, it’s vital to start incorporating cardio workouts. Examples of great exercises after undergoing weight loss surgery are cycling and water workouts as they’re much easier on your joints than, for instance, running. Do your best to work out 5 days a week for about 30 minutes every day and build from there.

If you, by any chance experience any chest pain or discomfort while doing such exercises, it’s important to stop immediately and call your doctor. Make sure to always listen to your body. When it comes to doing cardio, remember to not sprint. You should be able to talk comfortably when exercising but if you’re able to sing while doing cardio exercises, then you might not be pushing yourself hard enough.

Strength Training 6 Weeks After Weight Loss Surgery

When you reach the sixth week after your weight loss surgery, you can start adding strength training to your workout routine at least two days per week. Lifting weights, squats, and lunges are great exercises but remember to respect your body and stop if you happen to feel sharp pain. This also applies if you begin to experience any chest pressure, nausea, or extreme shortness of breath.

At this point, you can start doing cardio training 5 days a week, for a maximum of an hour each time, and add at least two of your strength training workouts per week. However, try not to strength train the same muscle groups back to back. As you make progress, you will be able to push yourself physically for greater results as your body will naturally adapt to the exercises.


A healthy diet and a lifelong exercise program are critical to anyone who has gone through weight loss surgery, as they help keep the weight off and reclaim the patient’s overall health.

After surgery, you should work with an expert team to determine an exercise plan that is right for you and your unique needs. With intentional commitment and dedication, you will be able to adopt a physically active lifestyle and ensure the weight doesn’t return.