Getting Ready For Weight Loss Surgery: the 20 Minute Walk

August 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, Medical News, Weight Loss

To be healthy physically, psychologically, and spiritually, every human needs physical activity and effective exercise. These changes, however, require more than an operation. Surgery results in decreased calorie intake which is only half of the battle to overcome the effects of obesity. For permanent success patients must make a new, comprehensive change to their lifestyle. We recommend a daily 20-60 minute walk (aerobic exercise), weight lifting 2-3 times a week (anaerobic exercise), and at least 2-3 outdoor activities per week like gardening, golf, fishing etc. For a sedentary person who gets short of breath after one flight of staris this is crazy talk! Of course these changes cannot be accomplished all at once. We have to start with an achieveable goal: the daily 20 minute walk. Many patients tell me that they will start exercising-after surgery makes them lose weight-which seems to make sense: it will be easier then, right? Wrong. The best time to start walking 20 minutes/ day is today and here is why:
1) Walking changes your metabolism. Obese patients have low metabolism from meal skipping, low protein intake, poor sleep habits and low activity level. As you start to walk you will start to burn more energy and “wake up” you body’s sleeping metabolic furnace.
2) Walking improves bone and muscle mass. As you walk you will stimulate your body to lay more structural protein into your leg muscles and to lay calcium into your bones. The metabolic state of building tissue is called anabolism.
3) Walking leads to anabolism which will get your body ready to heal faster. Your incisions and staple lines and and new hook-ups (the new connections between intestines are called anastomoses) will grow together via the bodie’s natural healing processes faster if your body is already in the habit of building structural proteins. We cannot prove it, but we believe that this contributes to the low leak rate that we have seen compared to other practices.
4) Walking improves cardiac and pulmonary function which will lower your operative risk of pneumonia or heart issues. You must be able to deep breath and cough after surgery and your heart must be conditioned enough to tolerate the normal fluctuations in heart rate the occur during the induction of anesthesia and laparoscopic surgery.
5) Walking improves arterial circulation to your legs and conditions your veins to minimize the risk of a deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot that forms in the leg veins and then travels to the heart is the most dangerous threat to bariatric surgery patients. Walking keeps the arterial inflow to the venous system strong and coats the inside of the veins with your bodies own natural anti-clotting factors. In fact, I ask all of my patients to walk at least 2 miles the night before surgery!
But what if I can’t walk because of foot/ kneee/ back etc issues: find something you can do, and do it vigorously for 20 minutes per day. Other options inlude water aerobics and swimming at the YMCA, the seated stationary bike, the elliptical machine, the rowing machine, etc. etc. You can find a way!!! So there you have it: the 20 minute walk. Start today.

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