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Exercise

In order to have the best results with weight loss and weight maintenance, it is extremely important to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise is important because it burns calories and reduces fat while also building muscle. Exercise also increases energy and lowers blood pressure while improving mood and self-esteem. It maintains bone density, improves your strength and balance and improves quality of life.

 

Starting an Exercise Program

Patients often do not begin exercising until they feel completely recovered or when they have not reached their goal weight. It is important to start exercising shortly after surgery.

Following surgery, you should begin your exercise program by walking several times per day. Start slowly and gradually build up distance and effort.  Incorporate cardiovascular, strength building, and flexibility exercises into your daily routine. Begin with as little as 5 minutes per day and add 5 minutes per week until you can stay active for 45 minutes per day.

 

Types of Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise uses your large muscles and can be continued for long periods of time. It is also known as aerobic exercise because it drives your body to use oxygen more efficiently. Aerobic exercise delivers maximum benefits to your heart, lungs and circulatory system. During these exercises, your heart rate should be elevated to a level to where you begin to sweat, but be able to carry on a conversation. It is recommended that you do 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 3-4 days a week.

Strength building exercise is also known as anaerobic exercise. This type of exercise does not have cardiovascular benefits; however it makes your muscles and bones stronger. Strength-building exercises require short, intense effort. These types of exercises include lifting weights and using equipment that requires weights. Increased muscle mass leads to calorie burning even when your body is at rest. These exercises should be done 2-3 times a week for best results. Be sure to warm up your muscles for at least 5-10 minutes prior to performing these exercises!

Walking is one of the easiest exercise programs to begin. It is an inexpensive, safe, and one of the simplest forms of exercise. You do not need to belong to a gym, buy expensive equipment or go anywhere! It is the first type of exercise recommended both before and after surgery. Even if you are a beginner, you can start by walking 10 to 20 minutes four or five days per week. As you become stronger, you can increase both the speed and distance. Be sure to warm up by walking for five minutes followed by a few gentle stretches. One of the most important things to remember is that consistency is the key! The more you can devote to walking each day, the healthier you can be. Start by taking the first step!

Water fitness is non-weightbearing exercise and a great option because it is gentle on painful joints. Many gyms and YMCAs offer a variety of classes based on fitness level. These activities can help improve strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, decrease body fat, and improve functional living. There are a variety of water classes offered -- try to find one you will enjoy the most. Be sure to talk to your surgical team prior to beginning any water programs after surgery. It is important that your incisions are well healed prior to soaking in water.

Tips for Sticking with the Program:

  • Make exercise a priority. Even though you may not like it, exercise is something you have to do in order to lose weight.
  • Do research. Look in your local community for different types of activities and classes you can take. Call your community center or YMCA to inquire about the various classes offered. You may find a program that is tailored to your needs  while also enjoyable.
  • Change it up. Even if you love to do certain exercises, you may get bored with the same program. Something as simple as taking a different route during your walk may make it more enjoyable.
  • Find a friend. Without someone holding you accountable, you are more likely to skip a day or not be committed. We all need someone to help us along and make us go the extra mile.
  • Participate in group activities. Participating in group activities increases the chance that you will stick to it. Choose water exercise, yoga, or stretching classes. Select programs where there are other people who are actively involved in exercise.
  • Know your weaknesses. If you know that going on vacation throws off your fitness plan, try incorporating exercise into your vacation. If you become easily bored, stay interested by changing the types and times of exercise.
  • Make a schedule. Prioritize your exercise routine. Make a note on your calendar and schedule out time every day for yourself.
  • Use a workout log. Keeping track of your routine helps to monitor your progress.
  • Stay active even when not exercising. Park your car further away from where you work or shop. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. These daily habits can really increase your activity level.
 

Personal Trainers

Working with a personal trainer is one of the fastest, easiest, and most successful ways to improve your health. Trainers can help you to make lifestyle changes that you may not have been able to achieve on your own. By choosing a personal trainer, you will be able to work one-on-one with a professional. The trainer will focus on your personal concerns and plan a safe program that will improve your health and wellness. Your overall fitness will improve as your trainer monitors and fine tunes your program throughout your journey. A trainer will help you set realistic goals and provide you with strategies and encouragement along the way.  Do research before selecting a trainer. Trainers can be found through local health clubs or community centers.