The Kind of Exercise that Works Best for Gastric Sleeve Surgery Patients

Exercise may be entirely new or an old enemy for vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients. So it’s little wonder that many want to know whether exercise is even necessary with a tool like the sleeve. (The answer is “yes,” by the way.) Most often, though, they want to know what kind of workout to do. I’m always happy to tell them what, in my opinion, is the absolute best exercise for VSG patients: whatever you’ll actually do. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you settle on a safe, effective regime.

Tip #1: Start slowly.
Whether you’ve never set foot in a gym or exercised up to the day of your gastric sleeve in Mexico, you’ll need to build up to a full-blown workout schedule. Keep in mind that you must be fully healed from VSG surgery (usually around 30 days out) before doing anything except walking. So use that time to exercise your “discipline” muscle with short walks as often as possible. Eloy, who now is a devoted weight lifter, knows that starting slowly can build to something pretty great. “(I) walked my dog to begin…kept going further, and I would time myself. When we were allowed to begin lifting, I did. Started super light doing a lot of reps. Then I gradually increased my weight.”

Tip #2: Discover your passion.
Is it possible to be passionate about exercise? Absolutely! The trick is to discover a way of moving your body that you enjoy, rather than dread. Truthfully, there are plenty of studies that show some forms of working out are more effective at weight loss than others (ie: strength training and interval training). But what’s most effective doesn’t matter if you can’t make yourself do it. So get creative. Think back to what you loved doing as a kid. Maybe you loved dance class or playing soccer with friends at recess. That’s what Janice did. “My new exercise is hula hooping,” she says, adding that she was eventually able to bump up her routine to include a weighted hoop. “I can do it in the house no matter what the weather. I’m up to an hour at a time.”

Tip #3: Set mini goals.
If you’ve never run a mile in your life but decide that you’re suddenly going to run a marathon, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream big; of course you should believe in yourself and everything you can achieve in your new, healthier body! But setting smaller goals on your way to your big dreams gives you more opportunities to celebrate the progress you’re making. And more frequent “wins” will boost your self-esteem and help motivate you to keep going. Depending on the type of exercise you’re doing, increase the time you spend exercising or the distance you go every week. Before long, all those mini accomplishments will add up to an impressive routine.

Tip #4: Think outside the gym.
Some people love going to the gym, and that’s great. But whether you lack the funds for a monthly membership or are leery of the germ situation during a pandemic, there are plenty of options beyond a traditional gym. Free online sites abound these days, and many are geared toward specific interests. Yogis can access a range of styles at, while sites like and Popsugar Fitness offer everything from HIIT to strength training. And many customers don’t realize that streaming platforms often include workouts as part of their services. If you’re willing to pay a bit, the options for at-home fitness are nearly endless—from group fitness to personal training right from your own living room.

We put a lot of emphasis on your gastric sleeve diet (for good reason), but developing a workout routine that you’re excited about is crucial to your long-term success as a VSG patient.

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.