Bariatric-Friendly Beginner Workouts

Bariatric-Friendly Beginner Workouts

Alex Brecher

Bariatric surgery can help put you on the path to lifelong weight control. Following a strict diet is crucial for hitting weight loss goals, but most surgeons also suggest establishing an exercise routine and staying active for life. Exercise not only burns calories, but also improves mood and improves blood sugar, blood pressure, and other areas of health.

It is not that difficult to start bariatric-friendly workouts. Just be sure to get your doctor’s go-ahead, and you may be good to go as soon as you can walk right after surgery. These are some easy exercises for beginners, as well as more nuts and bolts of bariatric-friendly beginner workouts.


Walking is a great first exercise, as it is natural and easy to do anywhere, on the streets or on a treadmill. Plus, since it is weight-bearing, walking supports bone strength after weight loss surgery, which is a time when bone health is at risk.

Your surgeon or doctor may give you the go-ahead to start walking as soon as possible after surgery, possibly while still in the hospital. You can extend your walks to down the driveway, around the block, and beyond. Eventually, you may pick up the speed or even start jogging every so often.

Pool Exercises

Aquatic exercises are easy on the joints and can give you a total body workout at any level. Aqua jogging mimics running but minimizes the impact, and can be done by beginners. Other exercises include squat jumps, hopping on two feet front to back or side to side, flutter kicks, water push-ups at the side of the pool, and water stair or ladder climbing. Lap swimming, using different strokes such as crawl stroke and breaststroke, can come as you get fitter.


Bicycling is low impact so it can save your joints, but it can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Stationary cycles are safer than road cycling; just be sure to check the weight limit of the upright or recumbent stationary bike before you buy or use one. As fitness increases, you can add high-intensity intervals by upping the resistance or pedaling faster.

Resistance Training

Resistance, or strength, training tones muscles, supports bone health, and helps maintain lean muscle mass and metabolism as you lose weight. Beginners should start with low resistance, such as light dumbbells or other weights or resistance bands. These simple exercises can help work most major muscle groups.

  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Overhead press
  • Bent rows
  • Chest press
  • Calf raises
  • Squats
  • Plies
  • Dips and lunges

Support Your Workout

Every workout should include a warm up to gradually raise your heart rate and warm your muscles. It should finish with a cooldown to slow your heart rate gradually. The warm up and cooldown can include 5 to 10 minutes of walking, and some light stretching afterwards can help loosen you.

Proper nutrition supports weight loss and workouts. It is best to have some protein and carbs a while before, and immediately after, the workout if your goal is to keep muscles fully fueled as much as possible. 

It is great that you are starting to work out. As you progress, exercise will feel more natural and there may be many more types of exercises that feel more comfortable for you to try, ranging from the elliptical trainer at the gym to sports in the park.