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Exercise and activity after weight-loss surgery

Activity soon after surgery

Being active soon after surgery will help you recover more quickly.

During the first week:

  • Start walking short distances in your house. Shower, use the stairs, and do simple tasks.
  • If it hurts when you do something, stop doing that activity.

After the first week

If you have laparoscopic surgery, you should be able to do most of your regular activities in 2 to 4 weeks. It may take up to 6 weeks if you have open surgery.

Before this time, DO NOT:

  • Lift anything heavier than 10 to 15 pounds until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Do any activity that involves pushing or pulling.
  • Push yourself too hard. Slowly increase how much you exercise.
  • Drive or use machinery if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. These medicines will make you drowsy. Driving and using machinery is not safe while you are taking them.


  • Take short walks and go up and down stairs.
  • Try getting up and moving around if you are having pain in your belly. It may help ease the pain.

Make sure your home is set up safely for your recovery.

Starting an exercise program

If your doctor says it is okay, you may start an exercise program 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

You do not need to join a gym to exercise. If you have not exercised or been active in a long time, be sure to start off slowly to prevent injuries. Taking a 5- to 10-minute walk every day is a good start. Add more time until you are walking 15 minutes twice a day.

Over time try joining a dance, swim, or low-impact aerobics class. Choose activities you enjoy. You could also join a softball or bowling team, or even a mall-walking group. The social aspects of these groups can be rewarding and motivating.

Resistance training can help build up your muscles and also help you burn calories. Resistance training uses weights, weight machines, or resistance bands. Start with light weights, such as 2 to 5 pounds, and repeat each exercise up to 10 times. Your surgeon may want you to wait about a month after surgery before doing weightlifting, to allow the surgical incisions to heal well.

It is important to do exercises that you enjoy so you keep doing them.

Your doctor can suggest ideas or refer you to a physical therapist if you need help finding exercises you enjoy.

Build physical activity into your regular routine

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference over time:

At work, try:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking down the hall to talk with a co-worker instead of sending an e-mail
  • Adding a 10- to 20-minute walk during lunch

At home, try taking on common chores such as:

  • Vacuuming
  • Washing a car
  • Gardening
  • Raking leaves
  • Shoveling snow

When running errands, try parking at the far end of the parking lot, or even down the street. Even better, try walking to the store.

If you ride the bus, get off the bus 1 stop before your usual stop if practical and walk the rest of the way.

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Review Date: 1/30/2018

Reviewed By: John E. Meilahn, MD, Bariatric Surgery, Chestnut Hill Surgical Associates, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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