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Every Bariatric Patient is told from DAY ONE how important it is to walk as a form of exercise after surgery. As a matter of fact, many are urged to get up and walk just hours after surgery! The benefits far outweigh the discomfort…. It lowers the risk of developing blood clots, provides fresh blood circulation to the wounds, and helps the lungs clear out any post-surgery “gunk” that may be settling inside.
Once you get home from the hospital, you have to seriously plan your walking routines. If the weather is good, you can walk outside. If outdoor conditions are not good, then you can walk indoors. Whether indoors or outdoors, you must plan your walking routines as consciously as you must plan your meals and fluid intake. Failure to do this will only prolong the healing process and you won’t feel as good as you could when a regular walking routine is accomplished.
The following are some guidelines for initiating your personal waking routine. Start out simple and push yourself just a bit each time. My doctor always told me this: “When you think you’re done walking, push for five more steps or five more minutes. You’ll have double the energy tomorrow”. I found this to be very true.
RULE NUMBER ONE: Always have a water bottle and a cell phone with you EVERY TIME YOU WALK! Let somebody know that you are going for a walk, your route, and when they can expect your return. In the event you become ill, fall, or need someone to help you, the cell phone will be your connection for assistance.
Month 1: Cart-Walking
•Cart-Walking is using a shopping cart as you walk in a store. Use a shopping cart for balance. This is the best way to begin your walking routine. Go to a big store that has shopping carts, lean over it, and walk slowly all around the store for about 30-40 minutes. This is ideal because as you lean and walk slowly through the store, nobody is “bothered” by how slowly you move. They will see you as just “browsing” and taking your time. The cart will support you as you need to pause, take a breath or two, rest, etc. Do this at least four days a week to build up your strength and stamina. If you think you might need a bench to sit down during your cart-walking, chose a store that you know that has benches for the times you may actually need to sit down for a moment.
Month 2-3: Mall Walking
•Go to an indoor mall and walk the entire mall and keep track of how long it takes you. Your fist attempt may take you two hours because you pause on the benches and rest, then get up again and walk…. And it may seem like it takes you forever. But it won’t always be this way for you. Each new day you try this, you will amaze yourself by how much faster you are covering the same amount of area. Do this at least four times each week. Set little goals for yourself, such as perhaps you will try not to sit down once, or maybe you will walk faster with longer strides. Have a tune in your head and walk to the beat of that tune. Stay focused on walking. Tell yourself over and over that you’re “almost done” as you walk. Positive self-talk is so important. Your mind will want to talk you out of walking… but don’t allow that! Stay focused and get the walking done.
Month 4-5: Park Path Walking
•Locate a safe park path and walk it. These might be as long as 2 miles, sometimes 3 miles.. but you CAN do this. You’re ready to take on the outside elements now…. Uneven ground, outdoor climates, wind, cracks in the pavement, everything! Do this at least three times a week. If the weather is too nasty, then go to the mall and walk. Don’t allow the weather to get in your way. Stick to your planned walking routines.
Month 6-one year: Speed Walking
•This is where you walk AS FAST AS YOU CAN without running. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, so you CAN do this! You’ve probably already lost between 80 to 100 pounds, so you’re really moving along fast and with such ease, you barely know you’re doing it. Soon you’ll realize that you’re walking fast to everything… people may even ask you “where’s the fire”… and you can reply, “right behind me!” You’ll demonstrate a level of high-energy to those around you. And who knows… maybe it will help you advance in your career when others see how much energy you have!
The REST OF YOUR LIFE: WALK, BABY!
•By sticking with a great walking routine, you’ll soon discover that you want to go beyond walking. You might begin to play baseball, swim, run, roller-skate, or even mountain climbing. IMAGINE THAT! All this and more is just waiting for you — and it all begins with putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, heel-toe, heel-toe, go!
Remember…. POSITIVE SELF-TALK as you WALK! Click to buy your cane