The importance of exercising after surgery

exercising after surgery

Whether you’ve undergone weight loss surgery or another kind of surgery, exercising after surgery is important for a quicker recovery and a more successful outcome. Exercise is a critical part of the healing process, and it has many benefits for people

Why it’s important to exercise after surgery

After surgery, it’s common for muscles to weaken and joints to become stiff from lack of use. For each week you don’t exercise after having surgery, it can take twice as long to regain strength in that area.

Additionally, the recovery time stated by your surgeon depends on whether you follow your post-surgery exercise program. Not exercising often results in a recovery period that’s longer than anticipated.

The benefits of exercise after surgery

Exercising after surgery provides numerous benefits for patients, depending on the specific surgery and the person’s unique situation.

While the following benefits are often seen in patients who exercise after having bariatric surgery, many of them are also seen in patients who exercise after having other types of surgeries.

  • Increased life expectancy
  • Reduced abdominal fat
  • Stronger muscles, bones and lungs
  • Reduced risk of disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced triglycerides
  • Higher good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol
  • Improved blood sugar control
  • Improved insulin control
  • Reduced risk of cancer
  • Increased energy
  • Improved balance
  • Improved appearance
  • Improved motivation and mental alertness

How to ease into exercise following surgery

Before beginning any type of exercise after surgery, you’ll want to check with your doctor and ask when it’s safe for you to start, what types of exercises are safe and how much exercise you should begin with.

While the appropriate time to begin exercise following surgery will vary, a walking regimen is the best place to start once you get the OK from your doctor.

When you first begin, your walks don’t need to be long or intense. Start with a short, casual stroll around the block. Do this every day and gradually increase the amount of time you spend walking each day, whether by increasing the distance you walk or the amount of time spent walking. In addition to increasing the duration of your walks, you’ll also want to slowly increase your speed as your fitness level improves.

The main point is to start walking as soon as your surgeon says it’s safe to do so and then start slowly, working your way up gradually.

Types of exercise to do after surgery

All exercise programs should include components that focus on endurance, flexibility and strength. This is also true for post-surgery exercise.

1. Endurance

As mentioned above, walking is a safe bet following most surgeries. As the walking gets easier, increase the length and intensity of your daily walks. Eventually, you can check with your surgeon about incorporating riding a stationary bike and/or swimming into your exercise regimen.

2. Flexibility

Stretching is an important part of an overall exercise program and offers many benefits. Stretching helps to improve flexibility and coordination, as well as increase blood flow to your muscles, which results in less soreness and more energy.

Begin with basic stretching exercises provided by your surgeon. You could also try a beginner’s yoga class, which is great for increasing flexibility, in addition to building strength.

3. Strength

Strength exercises are the third part of a well-rounded exercise routine. However, these exercises should not be started until you have been doing your endurance and flexibility exercises for a while and your surgeon approves adding them to your routine. Speak with your doctor about using exercise balls or weights.

Keep the post-surgery benefits above fresh in your mind so they’ll motivate you to stick with your exercise routine on the days you’re tempted to skip it. Making physical activity part of your daily routine will become easier and easier over time and will eventually become a habit that you won’t have to think twice about.

4 Tips for a more effective workout

workout tips

Regular physical activity is crucial to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Dirk recommends daily exercise to burn calories and strengthen your muscles and heart.

There are as many different fitness routines as there are gym-goers. How do you know how to get the most out of your workout? Here are some tips to make your workouts as effective as possible.

Build up to more intense workouts

If the goal of your workouts is to shed pounds, build muscle strength and boost cardiovascular endurance, aim to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Short, high-intensity workouts can deliver the same or better results than longer, less intense workouts.

Interval training is a great way to implement high-intensity workouts. Instead of slowly performing an exercise, then taking a 5 to 10-minute break to chit-chat or check social media, alternate between high-intensity and low-intensity exercises for 20 or 30 minutes.

Research shows that high-intensity interval workouts are vastly more effective at cutting fat and decreasing weight than steady state cardio. 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training leads to more weight loss than 40 minutes of steady-intensity exercise.

Focus on form

Before you ramp up the intensity, though, make sure you have great form. When exercising, you may feel motivated to add on the weights or go harder and faster.

But exercise form is the foundation of your workouts. Without good form, you won’t get the full benefits of an exercise, and worse, you’ll risk injuring yourself.

In general, align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Always be in control of your weights — don’t swing or jerk them around. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled relaxing movements.

Perform exercises that pack a greater punch

Certain exercises are more effective than others. Why spend time and effort on less effective workouts when you can get more bang for your buck with others?

Some of these great all-around exercises include swimming, tai chi, strength training and walking.

Swimming takes the strain off your joints while delivering a strong calorie-burning, toning and cardiovascular health boosting workout. Tai chi focuses on physical movement coupled with mental focus and helps reduce stress.

Strength training is less about bulking up than it is about keeping your muscles in good working form. Plus, strength training allows helps you better manage your weight, since the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn.

Finally, walking is a simple, free and beneficial for everything from keeping your cholesterol low, strengthening your bones, maintaining a good blood pressure, keeping you in high spirits and lowering your risk for several diseases.

Listen to music

Research shows that listening to music while exercising actually has a range of positive benefits, enabling a more effective workout.

Listening to music can distract you from fatigue, elevate your mood, increase your endurance and may even promote metabolic efficiency.

Regular physical activity is part of healthy living. There are no shortcuts, but you can implement these effective ways to exercise to get the most out of your time and effort.

5 Daily Aerobic Exercises to Try This Spring

daily aerobic exercises

On this blog, we often talk about how eating a high-protein, low-carb diet is the key to weight loss. But diet alone isn’t enough.

Regular physical activity — specifically aerobic exercise — is also important to losing weight and keeping it off.

Dr. Dirk recommends doing 60 minutes of aerobic activity each day for weight loss.

What are the benefits of aerobic exercise?

Committing to regular aerobic exercise can help you:

  • Lose weight and keep it off.
  • Strengthen your heart.
  • Reduce health risks. Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
  • Stay active as you age. Aerobic exercise keeps your stamina strong, and studies show that it also helps your brain stay sharp.

How do you start an aerobic exercise routine?

People who are overweight or obese are often nervous about starting an aerobic exercise routine. The key is to start slow. While 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day should be your goal, you don’t need to do that much on the first day.

Instead, build up to it. For example, walk for 10 minutes on the first few days. Then, after a few days, start walking for 15 or 20 minutes. You’ll surprised by how quickly your body will adjust to aerobic exercise.

Build up to your daily 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, then continue with it. Soon, you’ll begin to notice the benefits of regular aerobic activity.

Always remember that the first day will be the hardest. Once you finish your first day of exercise, you’ll feel good about knowing that the most difficult part is over.

Five aerobic exercises for spring

Aerobic exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or boring. Here are five aerobic exercises that Dr. Dirk recommends trying this spring:

  • Walking. One of the simplest and lowest-impact forms of aerobic exercise is walking. Spring is a great time of year to start a new walking routine. Take advantage of the beautiful weather to take walks around your neighborhood, your favorite park, a local arboretum or any other place you like.
  • Jogging. There’s a reason why spring is marathon season. Try going for jogs through your neighborhood, around a lake or or anywhere else. Be sure to start slow and build up your stamina. If you can only jog for 1 minute, then jog for 1 minute and walk the remaining time.
  • Bicycling. It can be more exciting to bike than walk or jog. So why not hop on your bicycle and go for a morning or evening ride?
  • Rowing. Going to the lake is one of the best things to do in the spring. Instead of relaxing with a cool drink, try rowing. It’s a fun, outdoor aerobic activity that makes good use of your entire body. Just remember to fasten your life jacket and stay safe.
  • Dancing. Why not try an exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise? Dancing is a great way to get your body moving and your heart pumping. Consider taking a Zumba class at your local gym, or simply turn on your favorite music at home and enjoy yourself. You can even get your family and friends in on it. Throw a backyard party, crank up the tunes and dance together!

Eating healthy and exercising daily is a proven way to lose weight, keep it off and improve your overall health. While doing aerobic exercise may be hard at first, keep at it, and you’ll quickly notice the changes in your body and your mood.

The Health Benefits of Walking

health benefits of walkingFrom limited free time to sore joints, it’s easy to find yourself discouraged when it comes to daily exercise. The good news? There are plenty of low-impact options that don’t require an expensive gym membership. In fact, one of the best ways to kick-start weight loss and fight associated diseases like depression and diabetes is one of the simplest: walking.

What Can Walking Do For Me?

The real question is what can’t walking do. From heart health to lower blood pressure and regulated blood sugar, walking is a great way to benefit all systems of the body. A brisk walk taken daily (or even just a few times a week) is shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as breast and colon cancer.

Walking is an easy, cost-free investment in your overall health. Not only does walking extend your lifespan by keeping chronic diseases at bay, but it also improves your quality of life: walking is a great way to trim your waist (and tone those calves, if you throw in a few hills) so you’ll feel strong and confident. The daily dose of Vitamin D that you’ll get from walking outdoors—as well as the rush of feel-good endorphins—is shown to be an effective antidepressant.

Walking and Weight Loss

Complicated workout plans are notoriously difficult to stick with. Walking at a moderate pace, however, is often enjoyable for most people, which means that it’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Whether you’re walking solo or with a group (don’t forget your favorite pet!), 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week provides the aerobic exercise you need to help maintain your goal weight. Walking is especially beneficial for patients recovering from bariatric surgery, since it’s a low-impact, self-directed activity that lets you go at your own pace.

Getting Into a Routine

When you’re walking for fitness, you’ll get maximum benefits if you pay a little extra attention to your posture. Engage your core by standing up tall and looking straight ahead, and minimize impact by walking smoothly, rolling from heel to toe. Pumping your arms just slightly will keep those muscles toned, while choosing a few hills is great, low-impact form of strength training. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to work your way up to the recommended 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Just remember that, no matter where you start, the most important thing is that you do start.

Dr. Dirk’s weight-loss patients are often advised to embrace walking as an enjoyable way to keep weight off post-surgery. Whether you’re looking for lakeside trails or you march right through the center of town, incorporate the things you love into your daily walks to ensure that you stick with your regimen.

Dr. Dirk’s Gift Guide for Fitness Beginners

Do you have a loved one who’s getting ready to embark upon a weight loss journey? This holiday season, you can help him or her succeed in living a healthy lifestyle with some well-chosen fitness and wellness gifts.

Here are just a few of our favorite holiday gifts for fitness beginners.

gift guide for fitness beginners
Fitbit Charge 2

Fitness tracker

These nifty gadgets allow your loved one to monitor their daily exercise metrics, including calories burned, steps and/or distance walked, heart rate and more.

While there are a number of fitness trackers on the market, some of our favorites include:

  • Garmin Vivosmart HR+: The HR+ is a good bet if your recipient likes their gadgets loaded with features. The home screen allows you to swipe between daily steps, stairs climbed, active minutes, calories burned, distance traveled and more. It features a Move bar that alerts you when you have been inactive for too long.
  • Fitbit Charge 2: The Charge 2 is a good general fitness tracker. A nice middle-of-the-road tracker, it monitors steps, sleep and heart rate.
  • Misfit Ray: The Ray is right if your recipient favors simplicity. The Ray has a stylish look and offers step and sleep tracking. There are different design options, and the device can also be worn as a pendant.
ift Guide for Fitness Beginners
Bose SoundSport Wireless

Workout headphones

Listening to music or podcasts makes an hourlong workout more pleasant. Some solid exercise-friendly headphones include:

  • Skullcandy Grind: The Grind provides excellent audio quality without breaking the bank. These on-ear headphones feature a sleek metal headband, a detachable cable and Taptech, which lets a user click a single button to take calls, play or pause music, and skip tracks.
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless: The SoundSport earbuds are wireless and easily pair to a Bluetooth device. Though the price point is steep, these earbuds provide top-notch sound while remaining secure and comfortable through strenuous exercise.
  • Sennheiser CX 686G Sports: The CX 686G earbuds are wired and durable. They feature a sealer in-ear canal design to block out exterior noise, and best of all, they’re affordable!
ift Guide for Fitness Beginners

Flipbelt Zipper

The Flipbelt fitness belt makes it easier to conveniently and securely store one’s keys, smartphone, wallet and more during exercise. It’s lightweight, has a better storage capacity than running armbands and pouches and comes in a variety of colors.


Brooks Streaker Long Sleeve Running Shirt

Help your new runner look and feel the part with a top-of-the-line running shirt. This women’s shirt from Brooks is fitted, and its DriLayer fabric wicks away moisture and reduces odor.

Reebok CrossFit Speed TR Shoes

These men’s Reebok cross-trainers are an ideal gym shoe, allowing for stability and comfort during high-intensity cardio or power squats.

ift Guide for Fitness Beginners
Takeya ThermoFlask

Takeya ThermoFlask

Keeping hydrated is the first rule of exercise. Takeya’s 40-oz. insulated stainless steel water bottle is durable, BPA-free and versatile.

Blue Apron

Eating well is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Meal subscriptions make it convenient and fun to cook at home instead of eating out. Blue Apron meal boxes include meats raised on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets and mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Gift-giving can be a powerful way to support your loved one in their quest to live a healthier lifestyle. This holiday season, show them your love and support with one of these fitness gifts.

Exercises for Obesity to Jump-Start Your Fitness Routine

exercises for obesity

The go-to mantra of weight loss is to eat healthy and exercise. But what if you physically can’t? For people who are obese, standard recommendations for working out just don’t cut it.

Trying to work out when you’re obese is tough. It already takes a lot of motivation and courage just to get off the couch and walk into the gym, but once you’ve made it that far, then what?

Here are some exercises for obesity to try that won’t break your spirit—or your back.


This low-impact cardio is often the easiest way to start exercising, whether at a gym or around the block. If you’re looking for more motivation on your daily stroll, try a pedometer. Turning exercise into a game can be great for your health.

Swimming or water aerobics

Swimming offers another opportunity for low-impact cardio. It’s easy on joints but also considered one of the most calorie-burning workouts out there. Being consistent with aquatic workouts can ease you onto the path to losing the weight.

Personal training

If your trying to avoid the various bariatric surgeries, you might try a personal trainer. This is the best option for someone who might have gotten off the couch but still feels intimidated when it comes to working out in public. A personal trainer, whether live in a studio or online, will offer workouts that work for your body type and level of ability.

Strength training

Strength and resistance training can be a good way to jump-start your fitness. Start on the machines that cause the least impact to your joints and then move up from there as you develop more muscle. Free weights and resistance bands are also effective for working your muscles.

Being active in other parts of your life

The more active you are outside of the gym, the easier it will be once you’re in it. This includes things such as housework, gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the door and other small daily tasks that add up to a lot more activity during the course of a day or week.

If you’ve tried to get into exercise but find your weight won’t allow it, it may be time to get in touch with Dr. Dirk.

5 Benefits of Exercise (that have nothing to do with weight loss)

5 benefits of exercise

While weight loss is the reason most people start working out, many stick with the habit long after they’ve met their goal weight. Of course, exercise is helpful for maintaining that healthy weight, but there are many other benefits of exercise than just watching the number on the scale drop.

Here of the top five reasons to work out that have nothing to do with weight loss.

1. Exercise wards off the common cold.

Since we’re entering cold and flu season, this is one benefit of exercise that shouldn’t be ignored. Research has shown that moderate amounts of aerobic exercise can boost the body’s natural defenses against viruses and bacteria. In fact, a recent study showed that people who worked out for 40 minutes four days a week were 25-50 percent less likely to catch a cold.

2. A good workout improves your mood.

You probably already know about endorphins, the feel-good hormones you feel after a good workout. But did you know that working out helps your mood at all times, not just immediately after exercise? One study even found that brisk walking can be as effective as prescription antidepressants for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.

3. Regular exercise promotes better sleep.

Being active regularly helps your body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just be sure not to exercise right before bedtime — you’ll be extra-energized instead of ready to hit the hay.

4. Exercise can increase your self-confidence. 

The confidence that comes from losing weight is something Dr. Dirk hears about time and time again from his satisfied patients. But even before people reach the major milestones of losing 50 or 100 pounds, they can still gain a sense of accomplishment from smaller milestones, like working out five days in a row or running a mile without stopping for the first time. Creating workout plans and sticking with them gives you lots of achievable goals to meet, even before you start shedding pounds.

5. Working out can improve your memory, creativity and more.

By increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise also promotes brain health. Many people report feeling more creative and thinking more clearly after a workout, and Scientific American agrees that the effects of a workout can help the brain by boosting memory and even reversing hippocampal shrinkage.

So the next time you’re thinking of skipping a workout, remember that it’s not just the calorie burn you’ll be missing out on. For more information on your weight loss surgery options, contact us today.


Why Not Exercising Could Cost You $2,500 Per Year

save money with exercise

It can be disheartening to step on the scale and see a number that you’re not happy with. But when you’re obese, you’ve got more than just those numbers to keep track of. Between diabetes, heart disease, depression and the other health problems that come with obesity, the bills can rack up fast.

In fact, a recent study found that those who don’t exercise pay an extra $2,500 per year in healthcare costs.

The study, based on 26,000 people and conducted by the High Risk Cardiovascular Disease Clinic at Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables, showed that even subjects with heart disease risk factors were able to save money by exercising every day.

Dr. Dirk says that this finding is not surprising at at all. His recommendation of 60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise goes beyond the AHA’s recommendation and results in even healthier patients.

“People do not understand the importance of exercise for good health and weight loss,” says Dr. Dirk. “That is why obesity surgery works — it makes good nutrition and exercise more effective.”

But the savings aren’t just for the patients. If people go to the hospital less often, insurance companies and medical networks save money, too. All told, the study concluded that if even 20 percent more people with heart disease risk factors began exercising, the overall financial impact would be in the billions of dollars.

So does the cost of your medical coverage outpace your paycheck? It may be time to consider a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. While the initial cost may seem steep, it is far less than spending an extra $2,500 per year for the rest of your life.

Obesity surgery helps get rid of high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, acid reflux, high cholesterol and joint pain, and it reduces the risk for cancer,” Dr. Dirk said. “If you are concerned about obesity and your health, it is time to give serious thought to obesity surgery.”

If you’re ready to make that next step toward weight loss (and money savings), give Dr. Dirk a call today.

Fitness Friday: Speed Up Your Workouts and Save Time

Fitness Friday

The most popular excuses for skipping a workout seem to be “I’m too busy” or “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” The school year is starting soon, and time will soon come at an even higher premium for parents.

But when it comes to your health, it’s essential to make the time to move every day. If you’ve been eyeing the scale, there’s no better time than now to make a lifestyle change.

“The best way to lose weight and stay healthy is to practice good nutrition and daily aerobic exercise for one hour every day,” Dr. Dirk advises.

Here are some ways to speed up your workout so you can get back to your life.

Try something new. If you’re at the gym and need a cardio machine that’s being used, try a different machine rather than waiting around. Using a new machine will still ensure you’ll get your aerobic exercise in, but it may also challenge new muscle groups — a win-win!

Plan ahead. Make a plan and know exactly what exercises you’ll be doing before you start your workout. Visualizing which machines or weights you’ll need is a great way to save time between exercises.

Keep your head down. Don’t make small talk with other gym-goers. While it can be fun to make to make new friends, if you’re in a hurry and health is your goal, keep your headphones in and your mind and body focused on the workout.

Build your playlist first. When you don’t have to scroll through songs, you’ll wind up shaving minutes off your workout time. Plus, setting up your playlist can get you more excited about your future workout!

Don’t check your phone. Pausing to respond to text messages or check tomorrow’s weather can add up and prolong your workout. Try turning off your phone or turning it on airplane mode before you hit the gym.

No matter what, be sure to get that aerobic exercise in every day. It’s the only way to curb diabetes, obesity and all of the other health problems that come with being overweight. If you’re getting your hour in every day and not seeing the results you need, it may be time to get started with Dr. Dirk.

Motivational Exercise Tools to Try This Year

exercise tools

Here on the blog, we talk a lot about the two keys to long-term weight loss: nutrition and exercise. According to Dr. Dirk, that second key is best achieved with one hour of aerobic exercise, seven times a week. Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to stay healthy. The best news, Dr. Dirk says, is that it does not have to be intense or difficult — just consistent.

“Surprisingly, a recent study showed that people who walked one hour a day lived longer and healthier than people who did not,” he says. “Even more surprisingly, in comparing marathon runners to the walkers, marathon runners did not benefit any more than the walkers!”

Creating habits can be hard work, but there are a few apps on the market to help track your activity, which can be a huge motivational tool.

exercise tools

Apple Sport Watch

Get your beach-body ready for summer with an Apple Sport Watch, the perfect combination of an all-day activity tracker with the capabilities of a superior watch! Enter here for a chance to win Dr. Dirk’s Apple Watch giveaway!

Couch to 5K

This program, designed to get people from “couch potato” to 5K runner, is a great way to ease into a workout routine. The sessions average 30 minutes and help you work your way from a 30-minute walk to running a full 3.1 miles. The program’s smartphone app can “coach” you with a guiding voice that helps cheer you toward your goals.


While running can be a great aerobic workout, it’s hard to enjoy it while timing your speed and measuring your distance. Runkeeper uses your phone’s GPS to map where you’ve run, how far and how fast. This allows you to focus on doing your best and enjoy your workout without distractions.

Ready to get started? Most experts agree that finding something you enjoy is important, but safety should be your top concern.

“Don’t go out there and try to break a land speed record,” Dr. Dirk, a Weight Loss Surgeon in Dallas, TX,  warns. “Start slow and work your way on up. But your goal is one continuous, uninterrupted hour of aerobic exercise every day.”