Bariatric surgery can change your life. However, you have to be committed to the lifestyle changes that come with it. 

These changes may feel daunting especially if you haven’t done any of these or have been unsuccessful in doing these in the past. This is why at New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery in Knoxville, we have a well-experienced team to guide you all the way. 

One of our members is Morgan Thomas, our clinical exercise physiologist. Let’s get to know her better:

What’s your role as a clinical exercise physiologist?

“My job is to assist patients in finding ways to be active and add exercise as part of their lifestyle. We have patients who have certain limitations, so I provide ideas for them and help them develop a program that works around those limitations. I also make individualized programs for advanced patients or those looking for more challenges. I create a structured routine and serve as the motivator for our patients in the field of exercise.”

What do you teach to bariatric patients?

“Exercise doesn’t have to be joining the gym or having expensive equipment. If you don’t access to any of these, you can start with simple movements like walking or marching in place. You can also do bodyweight exercises around the house such as squats or doing push-ups against the wall.

Some of our patients can get fatigued after a short period of time so I encourage simple movements like getting them to walk for 5 to 10 minutes.”

What are some patient limitations have you encountered?

“A lot of our patients have terrible knees and hips as a result of excess weight. They really struggle with weight-bearing movements. They can only stand for 4-5 minutes before they take a break.

Some of our patients are also limited physically due to the surgeries they had in the past like a knee replacement, so they find it hard to do lunges and squats.

We also have limitations such as not having access to the gym or equipment.”

How do you work with patients?

“I start by asking them what limitations they have and if they have access to the gym or equipment. I also ask them how much time they can allocate each day or week for exercise.

From their answers, I create a program consisting of cardio and weight training that fits their schedule. I provide them certain guidelines like working out  X amount of days in a week, focusing both on cardiovascular and resistance.

We have some patients who opt to follow a different program or a program of their own and just want input on these programs, so I’m also available to give that advice ”

How important it is for bariatric patients to include exercise in their lifestyle?

“It’s very important. Physical activities play an important role in long-term weight loss success. It’s not just about the weight though because we have some patients who can lose weight through diet alone. But patients who exercise regularly are able to sustain the weight loss for long. 

Exercise is also important for range of motion, joint mobility, and moving more freely. Some of our patients lose their ability to bend down or reach up. So exercise helps in those areas too.

And of course, there’s the role of exercise in maintaining good functioning of vital organs like the heart.”

What are your tips to stay motivated in exercising?

“I always encourage our patients to set smaller milestones to keep them going. A small milestone can be incorporating a 20-30 second jog in their usual 30-minute walk or walking continuously for 12-15 minutes.

Exercise can be boring. Variation is the key to keep you going. Just try something new to keep you from getting bored.”

What do you advise patients when it comes to exercise after bariatric surgery?

“After the surgery, you will have very limited intake. You may feel good but there’s the risk of dehydration. So, I strongly recommend patients to take it slow. Practice and take a break.

Another thing I tell my patients is something is better than nothing. Do not compare yourself to other people in social media or friends, family, etc. Your journey is your own. Just simple movements around your house can make a difference.”

New LIfe Center for Bariatric Surgery is part of Premier Surgical Bariatrics. New Life is associated with the Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery, Parkwest Medical Center is a member of Covenant Health and Covenant Bariatric Services in Knoxville, TN.