Exercise Improves the Lives of Bariatric Surgery Patients

Individuals who were engaged in regular physical activity following bariatric surgery lost more weight and found better overall health and vitality and less depression and anxiety compared with those who were inactive, according to a recent study.

Lead author Dale Bond of Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, claims that weight loss surgery has quickly emerged as the standard procedure for the treatment of severe obesity. Although weight loss outcomes vary, the results of this study imply that patient lifestyle, particularly levels of physical activity, can promote both enhanced weight loss and greater improvements in health-related quality of life following bariatric surgery.

For the study, researchers followed 190 patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University. They answered a questionnaire to provide feedback concerning their physical activity levels both before surgery and one year later.

To categorize which patients fit the description of “active”, researchers agreed upon a minimum of 200 minutes of weekly physical activity (which included walking, as well as sports or exercises of a moderate or vigorous intensity). Participants also answered questions that measured various details of their health-related quality of life, such as physical or emotional problems, bodily pain, general health, energy levels, social functioning, and mental health.

Researchers observed that physical activity enhanced progress toward all the key goals of bariatric surgery. Those patients who went from almost no weekly activity to 200 minutes or more lost 13.2 pounds more than inactive individuals.

These individuals also decreased their body-mass index by two units more and lowered their weight by 8 percent more when compared to those who did not raise their activity levels. The heightened activity group also experienced greater improvements in general health, vitality, depression, and anxiety symptoms compared to those individuals who followed a more sedentary lifestyle.

At the American College of Sports Medicine’s 14th-annual Health and Fitness Summit, Paul Sorace, M.S., and Adam de Jong, M.A., emphasize that the weight loss achieved as a result of bariatric surgery doesn't always equate to true health.

De Jong adds that bariatric surgery promotes weight loss but does not substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Although the procedure does provide significant improvements in key cardiovascular risk factors, including type-2 diabetes and hypertension, long term success is dependent upon lifestyle changes. As a part of these lifestyle changes, increasing physical activity levels is critical to attaining long-term health and also preventing recurring weight gain.


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