5 Exercises You Can Do While Sitting After Bariatric Surgery

Exercise is a significant component of losing weight and sustaining your weight loss after bariatric surgery. Exercise expedites weight loss, improves your overall health, and prevents muscle wasting during rapid weight loss. In the immediate weeks after your weight loss surgery, your doctor will likely recommend that you stick with walking. Once you’ve recovered, you’ll need to add weights and work your way up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five days per week.

Making the jump from walking to weightlifting can be daunting and confusing. You may have mobility limitations or too much joint pain to jump directly into weights or higher impact exercises. As you lose weight, more exercises will become available to you. However, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with walking or swimming as your only options. If the weather doesn’t permit walking or you don’t have easy access to a pool, you can perform seated exercises to meet your workout needs. Modifying exercises while seated can help you transition into more intense workouts while reducing the impact and joint pain.

Here are 5 seated exercises to do after Bariatric Surgery:

  1. Seated jumping jacks

    Jumping jacks are a great cardio exercise, but they’re high impact. Instead, sit on the edge of a chair and open and close your legs and arms as you would performing a standing jumping jack. Focus on moving your arms quickly, but don’t flail. Begin with three sets of 15-20 reps and increase as your stamina improves.

  2. Seated leg extensions

    Leg extensions help strengthen your hip flexors and thigh muscles. Rest your arms by your sides while seated at the edge of your chair. Straighten one leg and point your foot toward the ceiling. Raise the leg until it is parallel with the floor and hold it in position for three seconds. If you can’t reach that height without pain, aim to lift the leg as high as you are able. Perform the exercise without leaning back to use momentum or rounding your spine. Perform three sets of 10-12 reps per leg.

  3. Ab flex-and-twists

    Strengthening your core will provide greater stability as you prepare for more complex exercises. To perform this exercise, sit at the edge of your chair and elongate your spine. Squeeze your abs as you inhale. Exhale slowly and pull your core in tighter as you turn to one side. Inhale as you return to the center, then repeat the motion on the other side. Aim for three sets of 15-20 reps per side.

  4. Arm circles

    While seated, raise your arms to the side until they are parallel to the floor. Your arms and torso will resemble a T shape. Rotate your arms in a circle in a forward motion for 15-20 reps. Without lowering your arms, reverse the motion and rotate your arms backward for the same number of reps.

  5. Press-ups

    Seated press-ups activate your shoulder and tricep muscles without straining your joints. Sit on the edge of your chair and grip the sides. Press down against the chair as if lifting yourself away from the seat. Hold the position for three seconds and then relax. Perform three sets of 10-12 reps. Note: you don’t have to lift yourself off the seat. Focus on engaging your triceps and shoulder muscles.


Seated exercises are a great option for bariatric patients just starting their fitness journey. As you begin to incorporate weights, you can perform several exercises while seated until your strength and stability improve. Contact us today to find out if bariatric surgery is right for you.

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