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What is a HIIT Workout, and is it Safe for Bariatric Patients?

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If you’ve had or are considering undergoing weight loss surgery to lose weight, it’s important to remember that committing to a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, will be critical to your long-term success. To be successful, bariatric patients must learn how to incorporate daily exercise into their routine.


Many patients who choose weight loss surgery have struggled with the experience of feeling restricted from physical activity due to excess body weight. Joint pain and problems can affect mobility, and low energy levels make it hard to get motivated. However, once the weight starts coming off, patients find that exercise becomes easier and even enjoyable.


What is HIIT?

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one way to spice up your workouts and add variety into your routine. HIIT involves performing short bursts of high-intensity activity (such as sprints, burpees or push-ups) followed by intervals of low-intensity activity or rest. It is an efficient way to get your heart rate up, boost metabolism, burn calories and build lean muscle without spending hours a day in the gym.


The benefits of HIIT workouts

One of the greatest benefits of interval training is the increased calorie burn due to the fast-paced, start/stop nature of the workout. It is ideal for people with a busy schedule — even a mere 15 minutes of interval training three days a week can be as effective as spending an hour on a treadmill. The after-burn effect of the intense movement performed during a HIIT workout keeps your body burning calories for hours after your workout ends. And, as an added bonus, HIIT can be done anytime, anywhere — no equipment necessary!


What does a HIIT workout look like? Here’s a short example workout:

50 sit-ups

40 jump squats

30 pushups

20 split jumps

10 tricep dips

30-seconds of burpees

Perform each exercise at 100 percent effort with 30 seconds of rest in between. Repeat.


Potential drawbacks of HIIT for bariatric patients

Although there are many potential benefits of a HIIT workout, there is also a downside. The high-intensity nature of the workout may pose an injury risk to some weight loss surgery patients, particularly in the period immediately following bariatric surgery. In the weeks and months following surgery, patients are advised to start slow, building muscle tone and working on correct exercise form, before tackling a high-intensity, high-impact workout such as HIIT.


Safely incorporating HIIT into your routine

If you have recently undergone bariatric surgery, start with a low-impact interval workout, such as rowing or cycling. Start by working for 30 seconds at a comfortable speed/intensity, followed by 20 seconds at a moderate speed/intensity and 10 seconds of high intensity. If you are able, repeat the circuit up to four times, followed by a two-minute rest, then complete the circuit again five times.

Consider consulting a certified professional fitness trainer who can help you safely incorporate interval or HIIT workouts into your exercise routine.


McCarty Weight Loss Center in Dallas offers bariatric surgical support services including nutritional guidance, exercise physiology and certified fitness training. If you are considering weight loss surgery to help you lose the weight, contact the center that is committed to helping patients achieve success, no matter where they are on their weight loss journey.