The Benefits of Exercise

You've heard it before; exercise is good for your health. What you may not have heard is that it is incredibly important to you, as a weight loss surgery patient, to start an exercise program and stick with it. The benefits of surgery — including weight loss, reversing health conditions, and improved levels of energy — are all heightened by exercise.

After your surgery you will lose weight rapidly, especially in the first six months after your procedure. During those months exercise will help you maintain muscle mass; burn more calories; and in some cases, help prevent the overabundance of skin that many people face after tremendous weight loss. In the long term, exercise will help you continue to lose and maintain that loss. Exercise can help you “make up” for eating too many calories, and can allow you to eat more calories without gaining weight.

The physical benefits are not limited to better health and weight loss. Exercise can improve the way you look and feel. You'll have far more energy when you include exercise in your day-to-day life, and your physical appearance will improve as well. Firm and well-toned muscle will improve the way your entire body looks. It will help your skin “shrink” to fit your smaller body and will make your body more defined.

Lower Blood Pressure

Exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure. Combined with significant weight loss and a healthy diet, many people who have high blood pressure are able to maintain a normal blood pressure without medication. Exercise may allow you to say goodbye to the side effects of blood pressure medication forever.

If you are on blood pressure medication, be sure to have your blood pressure checked regularly after your surgery. Your blood pressure may return to normal as you lose weight and exercise, which, combined with medication, can actually make your blood pressure too low. Check with your doctor before making any changes to your blood pressure medication.

Lower Cholesterol

Your cholesterol levels can be expected to decrease as your exercise program and weight loss get into high gear. The combination of a low fat diet and exercise is an especially potent combination in the battle against cholesterol. Not only can you expect your bad (LDL) cholesterol to decrease, but you may also see a beneficial increase in your good cholesterol (HDL). In fact, research has shown that exercising four or more times per week can significantly boost your levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Even a moderate increase in your HDL can help protect you from heart disease.

Increased Weight Loss

Exercise helps improve weight loss in more than one way. Every calorie that you burn, as long as you have not eaten too many calories that day, can contribute to your weight loss. If you walk for an hour, you may burn as many as 400–500 calories, depending on your current weight, how hard your body is working during that time, and other factors.

That isn't the only positive aspect of exercise. You don't just burn calories while you are exercising, your metabolic rate can be increased for hours after you arrive home from the gym, providing many hours of enhanced calorie burning. Exercise will also increase your lean muscle mass, which will increase the number of calories that you burn on a daily basis. Your metabolism will increase as you continue to exercise, because your new muscle increases the number of calories your body requires to get through the day.

Control Type 2 Diabetes

Exercise can greatly improve type 2 diabetes, and in some cases, combined with dietary changes, can actually “cure” the condition. Many people who start exercising and begin losing weight find that they no longer need medication to control their blood glucose levels. In fact, successful weight loss patients often find that they have no signs or symptoms of diabetes as long as they meet and maintain their goal weight, or a healthy body weight.

Improved Skin Tone

If you are concerned about having excess skin after you reach your goal weight, you have an added incentive to start exercising. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, aerobics classes, bicycling, or other activities that increase your heart rate, can help minimize the excess skin you have in the long term.

Now, you aren't going to see your skin visibly shrink after your workout, but it will certainly help. Exercise can help your skin better conform to your new body, and will improve its appearance by toning muscles that lie under the skin. Combined with a diet rich in protein, good hydration, and a diet full of vitamins and nutrients, your skin could benefit greatly from your efforts.

Reduced Stress

Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Think of it as a two-for-one special: You reduce your stress and you speed your way to your goal weight. Exercise reduces stress in several ways. It stimulates the release of endorphins in your brain, leading to an enhanced feeling of well-being. This effect is often referred to as “runner's high.”

Exercise is also known to improve mood. Having a bad day? Exercise may be just the thing you need. In addition, it makes an excellent substitute for some of the less-than-positive coping mechanisms you may have developed over the years. If you've had a bad day and you find that you have an almost irresistible urge to eat junk food, or binge, taking a walk or heading to the gym may be the ideal solution. Not only are you removing yourself from temptation, you are doing something good for your body and getting an emotional pick-me-up at the same time.

Improved Eating Habits

Can exercise really improve your eating habits? Yes and no. Yes, because many people who exercise regularly find that they are less likely to indulge or go off of their diet plan when they workout. They feel that going off of their diet plan would mean their workout was a waste of time, so they are more likely to adhere to their established diet guidelines.

Exercise can, however, increase appetite. It is important that you maintain hydration during your workout, and rehydrate after your workout. This will prevent you from overeating after a workout, when you are simply thirsty. If you have the urge to overeat after a workout, try having a lowcalorie snack or starting your meal with a cup of broth-based soup, a small green salad, or fresh vegetables.

Many adults cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst, and will eat when they are actually thirsty. Maintaining adequate hydration can prevent this, but if you are in doubt, drink a large glass of water and wait thirty minutes before eating.

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