Adelaide Bariatric Centre

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Exercise counselling the key to long-term weight loss

Bariatric Surgery News & Research | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

21 Aug 2013 3:11 PM


Wondering if seeing an exercise physiologist really helps that much? Wonder no longer: it’s now been proven that exercise counselling increases bariatric patients’ physical activity levels by about 50%.

Without the support of physical activity counselling before and after surgery, most bariatric patients were insufficiently active, a University of Pittsburgh study has found. Even after surgery, bariatric patients who did not receive exercise counselling failed to increase their physical activity to a reasonable level.

“On their own, bariatric surgery patients are not likely to significantly increase their physical activity following surgery,” said Wendy C. King, lead author of the paper. “However, with assistance, motivated patients can increase their activity level and get real health benefits.”

The study highlighted the need for counselling not only following surgery, but also in the preparation process. Previous studies have demonstrated that even small amounts of exercise before surgery can improve healing time and reduce the likelihood of complications.

Patients who did receive counselling both before and after surgery became about 50% more active after surgery, and most met the guidelines of recommended amounts of moderately intense physical activity.

While overall health and weight was significantly improved among all patients studied, those who did not increase their physical activity found it difficult to sustain weight loss over long periods of time.

Despite the facts, only 22% of patients at accredited bariatric centres in the US received exercise counselling after surgery. This could be due to uninformed apprehensive attitudes toward physical activity from both patients and surgeons, according to Dr King.

“Because of patients’ health-related barriers to physical activity, clinicians may be inclined to hold off on advising their patients to become more physically active until after the surgery helps them lose weight,” Dr King said. “However...guidelines indicate that it is safe and beneficial for people with chronic medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, to be physically active according to their abilities.”

How we develop an exercise support program

Because the need for structured support has been evidenced so clearly, we work with a qualified exercise physiologist, Kathy Pash. Her experience in rehabilitative physical activity, personal training and pilates make her able to work with individuals of virtually any level of ability. Patients work with her to design an exercise program that can be home-based, gym-based, pool-based, or a combination of the three.

Hate running? Then read about our patient Matt Smithson, who went from desperately avoiding exercise to becoming a triathlete.