Exercise programmes

Any calories you take in that are not burned up during activity are stored in the form of fat. In order to lose this weight your body has to burn more calories than you take in. Reading the eating plan pages will show you how to reduce your calorie intake, but in order to optimise your weight loss after surgery, you need to also burn up more calories by increasing your exercise. And whilst exercise won’t work miracles on saggy skin, it will tone up your muscles and improve your posture which may have been quite slumped with all the extra weight your frame has had to support.

Exercise also confers benefits of mental wellbeing and enables you to take some personal time out of your daily routine to concentrate on yourself which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

This does not mean you need to rush out and join a gym and immediately after you have your surgery, you need to start exercising very gently sthat you do not damage your joints and muscles. However, as your excess weight comes off, physical exercise will become easier and you will also have a lot more energy and natural desire to be active. You ultimate aim should be to take at least 30 minutes' exercise per day. But start in small steps and set short term goals for yourself — 10 minutes of active housework each day is a good place to start!

To get the best benefit from exercise, it is important that you choose activities you like and which you will enjoy doing (swimming, walking, cycling etc.). Start slowly and gradually increase the pace of the exercise and the duration you are doing it — a good guide of determine if you are doing it at the right pace is that the exercise should make you feel warm and breathing more heavily, but still able to hold a conversation with someone!

For those who are not used to taking much exercise, walking is the best exercise of all and you may find it useful to purchase a pedometer or stepometer, which measures the distance you walk each day. The aim is to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, which for an average person’s pace, equates to five miles distance. The advantage of a pedometer is that it gives you instant feedback on your progress through the day so if by lunchtime you are below your target, you can go out for a walk during your break. Start with you own baseline, then increase your walking target by just 10% per week and you will soon be doing the 10,000 steps.

There are lots of little ways you can increase the amount of activity you take in the normal routine of your day. For example:

  • When you only have a short distance to go, try walking or cycling rather than using the car.
  • Get off the bus one stop before your destination and walk the rest.
  • Do not use remote control for your TV, music system, etc. (take the batteries out if needs be!) — get up out of your chair to do it instead.
  • Get yourself a dog or offer to take a neighbours dog for a walk each day
  • Use the stairs rather than using the lift or escalator.
  • Walk to the shop for you newspaper or milk rather than having it delivered.
  • Don’t stockpile things at the bottom of the stairs to take up with you in the evening, gup and down the stairs in your home as often as possible during the day
  • Get a Swiss ball (also called a ‘Fitball’) and sit on it when you use the telephone — keeping your balance will help to tone your bottom, tummy and thigh muscles!

Aerobic exercises will also help to tone your muscles and help reduce the amount of flabby skin you will have as you lose weight. There are lots of good exercise videos and an increasing number of classes designed specifically for people who are heavy or who have had surgery — enquire at your local fitness centre or gym. Your doctor may alsbe able to refer you to your local gym for an exercise class or tailor–made programme.

Find the time of day that best suits your lifestyle as this will also help you stick to your programme. You will soon start to find excuses to avoid a planned 7.00am walk if you are simply not a morning person. Be wise about exercising — modify your programme if you are tired, injured, unwell or during extreme weather conditions.

Physical exercise is good for both body and soul. Your joints become firmer and more flexible, your muscles become stronger, your lungs are better able to take in oxygen, your circulation is stimulated and your digestive system works better. Physical exercise strengthens your bones and delays the ageing process. It stimulates a feeling of wellbeing, you will feel less tired and weak, less stressed, more alert and you will have a sense of being in control of things. This in itself will motivate you to keep going with your new lifestyle!